Sunday, October 28, 2018

Review of The New Colony's Fun Harmless Warmachine

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Fun Harmless Warmachine. It was by Fin Coe and directed by James Fleming. It was about a man named Tom (Daniel Chenard) who was working at a boring insurance agency and was very deep into the online gaming community. He asks out a woman from his office named Melissa (Emily Marso) but she turns him down. Then he gets asked by Niko (Victor Musoni) to be a part of a online gaming clan called the Order of the Sword, lead by Hunter (Robert Koon). The clan promises to help him punish Melissa for disrespecting him. He quits his job after the clan gets him work with an online gaming company, Octopunk, and his life seems to be getting better until he tries to leave the Order when he wakes up to the fact that they post anti-feminist tweets and ruin people's lives by leaking private information via his accounts. It is about sexism, male power, and what makes an act unforgivable.

Tom has a very different personality when he is online than when he is off. He is like the Jekyll and Hyde of gamers. He actually seems like a genuinely good person when he is not playing video games. In his actual relationships with people, like DC (Londen Shannon) and Ekaterina (Ayanna Bria Bakari) and his little brother Jack (Musoni), he clearly cares a lot about them. But when he plays video games he feels like that is the most important thing in his life and nothing should get in the way of that. It makes him feel more competent and confident about himself, but he is less likable because of how cocky and selfish he is. He doesn't think of people as real people when everything around them is virtual, even though there may be a real person behind them. It enables him to treat people badly without any thought or restraint. Half of the time you are like, this guy is great he deserves a good life and half the time you are like, this guy is a terrible person and doesn't deserve the things that he has. Even though he is our protagonist, he is not a hero. Part of me really hoped that he would get redeemed, but I think it was better for him to actually get cut out of people's lives and not be immediately (or maybe ever) forgiven. I think it was good that they don't give the audience the immediate gratification of him being forgiven.

The last scene of the play was very moving and I thought it had an interesting message. But since it is the last scene of the play, it had some spoilers in it, so you can read it here if you don't care about spoilers or have already seen the play.

I really like the movement (choreographed by the director and cast) in this show. I love how people would face each other when they were talking to each other most of the time even when characters were talking online or on the phone. I feel like sometimes in shows they lose the intimacy in the scene because they are online, but because of the movement in this show they did not lose the relationships. The movement was also used to simulate things in the video game. They would crouch on chairs and say classic gamer lines and shoot at each other in what seemed like real life. It was a lot more visceral to see them yelling childish things with a body in front of them. Much more than just watching people play video games and yell at a screen. Notifications would also come in during the game and the actor playing the character sending the text would stand in front of Tom and he would swipe them out of the way, which was sad to see how he could swipe away real people like they were notifications and how much the game had taken over his perception of the world.

People who would like this show are people who like coffee shop confrontations, visceral movement, and Jekyll and Hyde gamers. I think that people should go see this show. It is a fascinating concept. It is really well written, directed, performed, and choreographed. It made me think more about how people online are actual people, even if they are not the people they are pretending to be.

Photos: Emily Schwartz

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