Review of In Love and Warcraft:
Sexual tension abounds in laugh out loud UCC play
“In Love and Warcraft” is a laugh out loud, modern adult comedy with a character named Evie who has a way with words in the game of love. But is she all talk and no action? Theater Arts at Umpqua Community College is virtually presenting “In Love and Warcraft” written in 2014 by Madhuri Shekar, Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25 to 26 and March 4 to 5. Free tickets are available through ASUCC; online ticket purchases are $5.
“In Love and Warcraft” is the perfect play for virtual theater since it’s set around online gaming with its world of computer screens. The play starts with a love scandal plaguing Evie’s Warcraft guild during an epic raid, quickly introducing the audience to her romantic wordsmithing. Evie’s helps her friends and clients navigate strategies in the game of love. However, her business of writing love letters and poetry to help others woo lovers does little to help her understand her own romantic needs. The play’s conversations exploring intimacy, relationship and real-world dynamics create endearingly familiar characters. Events culminate in surprisingly poignant moments concluding with a feel-good end to this salacious romantic comedy. The conversations and events are believable because the cast is obviously comfortable working together.
The cohesive cast flex some serious acting muscle, performing through Zoom. The “In Love and Warcraft” reality pours through the screen with the actors’ expert use of body language, comedic timing and technical skills. Thomas Weaver, Carissa Erickson and Nakaela Hunt to bring multiple characters to life with subtle changes in mannerisms and personality. Chris Lyon brings awesome geeky awkwardness to his character Ryan, a “but I’m such a good guy” type, scorned by love; Arial Hicks (Evie), Jeskia Barnes (Kitty) and Andrew Laniohan (Raul) embody the palpable passions pulsing through the alluring plot twists. One of the most amusing aspects of the play is watching Barnes, ASUCC student president, and Hicks, rib each other in a delightfully sassy way, humorously highlighting their understanding and acceptance of each other’s differences.
Christina Allaback, PhD, director of Theater Arts at UCC, says the play is “very different” than the style and tone of past performances. “At a summer acting workshop, I read an article about the play,” Allaback said; “I knew we had to do it.” The author, Shekar, wrote a virtual adaptation that Allaback edited further for this current production. “Some of the intimacy left in the virtual adaptation didn’t translate well enough,” said Allaback. Special considerations must be made for virtual performances.
Allaback’s insight into the virtual viewer experience and her attention to detail helped the cast work around Zoom glitches. The clever syncing of backgrounds creates a sense of continuity between individual actor’s screens that is otherwise lost through virtual platforms. Quick costume changes are another challenge the cast brilliantly solve through layering, and a modern musical score injects an upbeat story atmosphere. “In Love and Warcraft” delivered more than expected, with relatable experiences and sexual tension so comical your cheeks may ache before last curtain. The audience can expect to feel like they are a part of this group of friends, sitting at the table through all the excitement. Hilarious, cringeworthy romantic awkwardness created a theme of jaw dropping moments. A must see show for deep seeded belly laughs.
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