I had no idea what RuneScape was (beyond the press release saying it is a video game) before seeing this show. I could, of course, have looked it up – but I deliberately wanted to discover if I could follow proceedings as someone who has never played the game before, and therefore knows nothing about what is required to succeed in RuneScape. There isn’t, it appears, a set storyline, and such are the “choices, choices” (to quote this musical) available that there are all sorts of options available to players. There are ‘quests’ to be completed, some of which require working together with other players.
It is, in effect, an online universe, which means the cast of seven play all sorts of characters between them. At each major crossroad in the game played by Lance (a likeable Tonny Shim), the audience is invited to make a decision, as though this were a digital version of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book series. Not every decision is made in the same way – after all, variety is the spice of life, and just like video game players who like to mix things up a little, some decisions are made by cheering the loudest for whichever option is preferable, some by soliciting individual opinions, and one by a brief contest in which two audience members guess how many people are playing RuneScape around the world at that point in the show. Let’s just say it’s a popular game.
I am pleased to report one need not have any prior knowledge of RuneScape before seeing the show – all is sufficiently explained, mostly by a Wise Old Man (Sam Cochrane), while those with extensive experience can testify to the authenticity of the player experience as presented here. The show actually does go with what the majority of the audience decides (I’ve been to so-called ‘interactive’ shows where the chosen courses of action suspiciously didn’t correlate to what most people wanted) and if time allowed, I might be inclined to attend another performance to see how things transpire. As it is I am sufficiently satisfied that the cast listens to its audience.
I’m the target demographic, perhaps, but are there all these knowing references to aspects of the game in the dialogue that went over my head, like the smutty references in the panto that go over the heads of children? There’s some sprightly choreography, and I note with interest that players play the game responsibly in terms of knowing when to call it a night: nobody burns the midnight oil in the name of completing ‘just one more quest’. Perhaps that’s the nature of collaborative gaming – if necessary, there are others to remind you not to neglect other aspects of your life, however addictive the game may be.
An amusing and energetic insight into the world of online gaming, it’s a delight from start to finish.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Sword equipped. Potions ready. High-speed internet connected. Based on the popular online game RuneScape, join Lance_054 (the first 53 were taken) on a quest where the audience choose what happens next!
A Musical Parody of the Video Game RuneScape
3rd – 28th Aug Big Yin, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose