Anyone who plays World of Warcraft would have a mild appreciation (or disgust) for Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre simply because of the name. So, it is only fitting that it would be the theatre to put on a show called “In Love and Warcraft,” which I had the pleasure of attending recently.
The story revolves around Evie (Lily Balsen) who excels at writing love letters for other people (Cyrano de Bergerac style) while maintaining what could barely be called a love life of her own. While in an online relationship with her guild-leader Ryan (Patrick Halley), she falls for Raul (Evan Cleaver) while tasked with helping him reclaim his ex-girlfriend. Quite rapidly, they each ditch their prior relationships. As they grow closer, Evie’s insecurities with her body and sexuality come to the forefront, and she struggles to have a fulfilling relationship while unable to handle the concepts of intimacy and intercourse. The play is an interesting meditation on college-age relationships and modern sexuality, but it engages this topic with Warcraft glaringly present in the background.
From the opening scene, World of Warcraft is on display. The show begins with a guild dungeon run. Players are spread out across the stage with keyboards and laptops to represent them playing at their separate locations as Ryan and Evie lead their group. Ryan barks orders about dps, yelling commands at the healers and tanks as the run falls apart due to real life intruding on their gaming (as it often does). From there, Evie’s relationship to the game is firmly established, as she is often on her laptop during several scenes (her laptop is emblazoned with stickers for Steam and Rockstar to establish her gamer cred). Music from the game is appropriately played during scenes featuring Warcraft, and Evie, and especially Ryan, make many references to the game throughout their dialogue. Some, such as mentioning spells like pyroblast, are specific and well-used references. Others seems a bit vague and the references are more fantasy-based than they are specific to WoW (at one point a character talks about a Sword of Truth, and I could never quite recognize which raids and dungeons they were talking about). Notably, the phrase “Don’t stand in the fire,” (referred to as the number one rule of Warcraft), is repeated several times throughout the show, and even factors into Evie’s development as she struggles with Raul.
As mentioned, the play does make several missteps with respect to WoW. At one point, it appears that an undead character is questing alongside a human and a gnome, and the music that is played has no relation to what is supposed to be happening in game. (Reforged, the Orgrimmar theme since Cataclysm, played during an Alliance dungeon crawl). It is easy for anyone familiar with the game to list all the violations of lore or mechanics, but in this instance, the inconsistencies are benign. “In Love and Warcraft” is a story about a young woman’s repression and discovery of her own sexuality. The game provides flavor and subtext, but erroneous facts (like a four-person guild attempting a world first boss-kill) have no bearing on the story. In the interest of representing the Warcraft community, what is important is not that the facts themselves are right, but that the fun and excitement of Warcraft is captured.
Evie is presented as someone with emotional issues who may rely on the game as a crutch at times, but she overcomes those issues and makes a great ambassdor for Azeroth. Players will be familiar with her failed attempts to recruit Raul and her roommate Kitty (Alexandra Ficken) to play WoW despite their lack of interest. After the characters step into the game as part of the amazing climax, they both come away impressed with Evie’s in-game renown and having enjoyed their time dungeon crawling. I can be critical when official Blizzard properties play fast and loose with the lore, but here, the story told is primary, and Warcraft is represented well enough that all the aforementioned details failed to detract from my enjoyment of the play.
The climax takes place in-game, and it is impressive. After talking about Warcraft for the duration of the show, the last act takes place with Evie and Ryan (as their characters) entering a dungeon. Evie remains a human (I think a priest but her class is never made clear) and Ryan is a gnome mage (Poor Halley generates his diminutive stature by playing the entire scene on his knees, with a long coat covering his feet.). An ongoing boss fight keeps the players occupied – the mob appears to possibly have been a fel orc, but the specific creature-type is trivial compared to the danger it represents. The costuming was well-executed (I don’t think Evie was wearing tier armor, but it was fantasy appropriate) and the special effects were respectable – the fact that a giant boss was marching around on-stage is impressive in and of itself. The stage decor was sparse, as it was for the whole play. (A single couch or a chair would represent an entire apartment, a stone backdrop would represent the halls of the dungeon.) I never thought I would see World of Warcraft interpreted as a live-action play, and the results were utterly entertaining. The narrative builds naturally to the in-game climax without forcing the scene or turning the presentation of Warcraft into a stunt.
Overall, the audience seemed to enjoy the show. “In Love and Warcraft” is billed as a romantic comedy, and it lives up to the hype. Given non-gamer stereotypes towards Warcraft, the audience was receptive and engaging, and the comedy of “In Love and Warcraft” helped keep their spirits afloat. It’s a witty and compelling play about human sexuality, and I would have enjoyed it even without the Warcraft theme.
For anyone in the Atlanta area, “In Love and Warcraft” will be at the Alliance Theatre through February 23rd.
Patch 5.4.7 hit this week! A post-patch bug had the Boost-to-90 in the store for $60. And we finally have a game that people will pay not to play. http://wow.joystiq.com/2014/02/18/level-90-boost-is-up-on-live-servers-for-60/
New female orc model revealed. The teeth in the undergarments doesn’t seem comfortable. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12845268/artcraft-daughter-of-draenor-2-19-2014
Blizzard has released a guide up for new players leveling through the human starting zone. They missed the part about checking your mail and equipping heirlooms. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12855769
A bunch of Blizzard devs released screenshots of their WoW design notes on twitter. I’m guessing the Warlords beta is taking so long because no one can decipher Tom Chilton’s handwriting to know what they are supposed to do.
Tom Chilton (Burning Crusade): https://twitter.com/thekalgan/status/434141415421915138/photo/1
Alex Afrasiabi (Benediction): https://twitter.com/Abrosiabi/status/434077217534918656/photo/1
Cory Stockton (Death Knights): https://twitter.com/mumper/status/434171994896998400
Jonathan LeCraft (More BC): https://twitter.com/TheCrafticus/status/434180606608433152/photo/1
Alex Afrasiabi also tweeted a screenshot from Gorgrond. It looks like the Valley of the Four Winds with lots of pollution and no water. https://twitter.com/Abrosiabi/status/433781538551910400/photo/1
The Characters of Warcraft page has been updated! Eleven characters down. Only several hundred more to go!!! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12811668/characters-of-warcraft-updated-2-12-2014