Written and Directed by Jared Tyrel Pixler and David Evan Stolworthy
Produced by MB Stage Productions
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.20.16
VENUE #2: Flamboyan Theater at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street
by Zak Risinger on 8.20.16
BOTTOM LINE: An action-packed, nerd-tastic battle royale with plenty of laughs where the audience picks the outcome as video game characters fight to the death.
It's that time of year again! Princess Zelda, the Queen of The Console, is celebrating the 64th Annual Video Games. Tributes from all across the video gaming universe will battle to the death to win the coveted prize of "Player One." By voting for their favorite character and sending inspirational messages to them on Twitter, the audience of The Video Games will be able to alter the course of events and save their favorite character from certain death so they can play another day. It's Smash Brothers and Mario Party meets The Hunger Games with live-action fights and audience voting. Let the games begin!
The Video Games is not your normal night at the theatre. The actors greet you in character, setting up who they are in the video game world and campaigning for your votes on Twitter. Under the guidance of hosts Mario (JP Rapozo) and Jiggly-Puff (Amber Lawson), the audience is given wrist bands to vote for the mortality of different players; selected people are given various trinkets that will also be used to determine the outcome of the game. Some people are even asked to play very small roles in the game. It’s a video game lover's dream come true. The Video Games is packed with inside jokes that will take you back to a time when video games were awesome, as well as a nod to the new generation of video gaming heroes and villains. If one is not a video game fan, don't worry; there is still a lot of fun to be had and bloody battles to be seen.
The highlight of the show is, of course, the fighting. Matt Franta and Brandon Pugmire do a remarkable job staging a staggering number of fights with different possible outcomes that look polished, fun, exciting, inventive, and safe all at the same time. These two skilled individuals have crafted some kick-ass fight sequences that truly are the stars of the show. The large ensemble cast does a stupendous job of embodying the essence of their video game personas. Matthew Ip Shaw, who plays Master Chief from the Halo series, manages to find moments of unexpected humor and humility in a role that easily could have been a one-note, gun-slinging soldier. And Cody Jordan as Mega Man exudes a youthful innocence and energy that has the audience rooting for him from the very beginning. You should have won the performance I saw! I'm so sorry that you died!
The Video Games is pretty cool. If you grew up playing Mario Brothers, Mega Man, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Mortal Combat, Halo, and/or Final Fantasy you will love it. If you weren't into video games you will still have plenty to enjoy. There are even a few Pokémon characters if you have recently been obsessed with Pokémon Go. Either way, The Video Games is a ton of fun. Have a drink, tweet for your favorites, and have a great time. May the odds be forever in your favor!
(The Video Games plays at VENUE #2: Flamboyan Theater at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, through August 20, 2016. The running time is 1 hour 30 minutes with an intermission. Performances are Sat 8/13 at 5; Mon 8/15 at 5; Tue 8/16 at 9:45; Thu 8/18 at 9:30; and Sat 8/20 at 12:30. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit mbstage.com/videogames.)
The Video Games is written and directed by Jared Tyrel Pixler and David Evan Stolworthy. Choreography is by Matt Franta and Brandon Pugmire. Costume Design is by Courtney Lucas. Makeup Design is by Katie Lynn Mapel. Stage Manager is Jesse Fiene.
The cast is Jane Schumacher, JP Rapozo, Amber Lawson, Matt Franta, Matthew Ip Shaw, Kate Hill, Cody Jordan, John Schanck, Jason Lee Dennis, Connor Carson, Kaitlin Abendroth, Amanda Newman, Kameron Omidian, Caset Suddeth, Chloe Malaise, Sarah Ruttan, and Meaghan Aitkens.