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In Love and Warcraft at Theatre N16 – Review

Charlotte Nice and Daniel McKee
Charlotte Nice and Daniel McKee
Photo by Jade Thomas

What’s the most used tropes about people who play video games, and nerds in general? That they are overweight, socially awkward virgins who live in their parents’ basements. As a lifelong female nerd, I got really excited when I saw the poster for In Love and Warcraft, and I got even more excited when I heard it was written by a woman and with a female lead. Awesome! I was hoping for a more nuanced look at gaming and women’s relationship to gaming, and that’s not what I got.

Instead, In Love And Warcraft features Evie, a very intelligent woman who appears to identify as asexual, and her dealing with having a boyfriend for the first time in real life, with the physical aspect of the relationship being very difficult for her to handle. Evie is also somewhat of a relationship guru who has never been in love and is a virgin. And we get all the tropes above, mostly in reference to her online friend/platonic virtual boyfriend Ryan, who is mercilessly mocked for living in his mother’s basement, and referred to as a loser.

I get it, the play isn’t really for people like me, who genuinely love playing video games and don’t see anything wrong with it. But when you have some references that are spot on (vial of sands is a real thing – I’ve made two of them and it takes hours and hours to farm for) and at the same time 50% is just wrong (a character is referred to as both tank and healer, ctrl-t isn’t a key bind default in the game and ctrl-y opens the achievement window, I mean really!) you wonder why they didn’t have a proper wow player check the references. If it was all out there and made up it wouldn’t be so frustrating for the nerd girl in the audience who had to fight the urge to shout out corrections or put a list in this review. That’s not what the play is about, and that’s fine. But why use a ‘world’ inhabited by about ten million people worldwide and not get the game mechanics right? It’s frustrating to watch for this level 110 night elf balance druid with item level 846.

But the main reason why the writing is so frustrating is that the cast and the production, in general, is brilliant. It’s acted well, directed well and you can’t help but like the characters, with the standout performance by Charlotte Nice as Evie being both beautiful and layered, with a lot of respect for a fairly complex character that in her skillful hands never becomes a caricature. In fact, the presentation is generally so good I can very nearly forgive the writing – but in the end, I left feeling like my particular subculture was made fun of, as the audience were shrieking at characters acting in a game and having a great time, laughing at the nerds. I have no problem making fun of gamers, but there’s a difference between laughing at and laughing with. Mocking nerd culture is hardly new, and something I thought we’d started to move past. I also can’t forgive the writer for the treatment of Kitty, who is a woman owning her sexuality, and she never got a proper apology from Evie for the slut-shaming. That’s not cool.

In the words of Evie, I’m a dork and I own that. But I also respect good craft when I see it. And I am willing to concede that there may be mermaid lagoons somewhere in an alternate universe version of the game, where a paladin can wear cloth robes instead of plate. Four stars for the production, two stars for the play.

Four stars for the production, two stars for the play.

3 Star Review

Review by Tori Jo Lau

The award-winning romantic comedy by Madhuri Shekar tells a story of love and friendship in the 21st Century and shows how, sometimes, you have to lose yourself online to find yourself offline.

Evie has it all figured out. She’s a college senior who wants a sex free life and plenty of time to retreat into the comfort of her laptop. Not only does she command a top-ranked guild in Warcraft with her online boyfriend, she also makes cash on the side writing love letters for people who’ve screwed up their relationships. After all, love is like Warcraft; it’s all about strategies, game plans, and not taking stupid risks. Right?

Well that’s what she thinks… until a guy comes along. In Real Life. Suddenly no amount of gaming expertise or advice from best friend Kitty will help her out when she finds herself with a non-virtual, totally real boyfriend, who wants more from her than she’s willing to give.

As Evie prepares for the battle of a lifetime her two worlds finally collide. With hilarious and unexpected consequences, this is a play for anyone who understands (or wants to) what it’s really like to grow up online.
In Love And Warcraft contains adult themes and so parental discretion is encouraged for under 16s.

What A Nice Production presents
In Love And Warcraft by Madhuri Shekar
6-10 & 13-17 November 2016 at 7:30pm
http://www.theatren16.co.uk/

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