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These days, if you’re in a crowded room and you hear pings, chimes and short electronic tunes, it means people around you have received notifications, texts or phone calls. But there was a time – the 1970’s to be exact – when those sounds meant you were standing in an amusement arcade in flared jeans and a pastel t-shirt, frantically working buttons or manipulating a joystick.

Belvoir Theatre has recreated that environment in its downstairs theatre. Running concurrent with the production of Girl, Asleep – a quirky, groovy play about coming of age in suburbia in the ’70’s – the Pop Up Pinball Arcade is part of a chill-out space designed to look like the imagined basement of the home of the Girl, Asleep family. Replete with retro decor, The Bumper Bar, as it has been dubbed, will feature four pinball machines, two arcade games and two retro consoles (a Nintendo entertainment system and Sega Megadrive).

The machines have been loaned by Belvoir employee Jessica Vincent and her partner, who buy and restore old arcade games. Patrons will be able to play classics such as Space Invaders, Frogger, Pacman and Vincent’s personal favourite, Burger Time.

“That’s where you play a chef and you have to try and build these burgers before a little chilli or an egg come and eat you,” she explains.

Among the pinball machines, Bride of Pinbot is a rare and very challenging classic.

A suggested $10 donation will buy you unlimited time on the machines and also contribute to fundraising for Belvoir’s Arts Access Program, which provides free theatre tickets for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Vincent says anyone is welcome to pop in and spend time at The Bumper Bar:

“We have a bar set up and Poor Tom’s Gin have very generously given us gin at very low prices… so we’ve got a gin punch there and beers… people can just come and sit around or play games – it’s very social.” (RB)

Until Dec 24 (5:30-10:30pm Tue-Fri, 1:30-10:30pm Sat, 3pm-8pm Sun). Belvoir Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills. $10 entry (suggested). Info: www.belvoir.com.au

BY RITA BRATOVICH