In Love and Warcraft

American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco
Perseverance Theatre, Alaska
Written by Madhuri Shekar
Directed by Peter J. Kuo
Starring: Cassandra Hunter, Hernán Angulo, Evangeline Edwards, James Mercer
Live via Zoom, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11-12, 2020; on-demand Sept. 18-25, 2020
act-sf.org



Talented playwright Madhuri Shekar won the “2013-14 Kendeda Graduate Playwrighting Contest” for the engaging rom-com “In Love and Warcraft,” and it has been successfully produced around the United States ever since. The tender two-act play (2 hours, including one 10-minute intermission) follows a slice of college life, focusing on an online fantasy role-play gamer, Evie Malone.

Geeky and endearing Evie (excellent Cassandra Hunter) is much more comfortable with online relationships that center on the game “World of Warcraft” than she is with real-life interactions. A college senior, content with her virginity, she has no physical contact with her online gamer “boyfriend” Ryan (first-rate James Mercer). As a side hustle, Evie, like a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, helps the inarticulate lovelorn by composing love letters, posts, and texts for them.

A polar opposite, Evie’s best friend, Kitty (talented Evangeline Edwards), is addicted to sex and super-size drinks. Kitty sees sex as more of an athletic act than an emotional one, although we sense an emotional fragility below her surface.

When Evie begins to date a new client, the sexy and sweet Raul (outstanding Hernán Angulo), her online world and her actual world begin to collide. What to do? The interrelationships among Evie, Raul, Kitty, and Ryan are fraught with sex and confusion, but ultimately, they happily resolve.

Even though the actors are all on different Zoom screens, director Peter J. Kuo has maximized the use of electronic media, so laptops, phones, and even a security camera, are utilized adeptly. Sometimes more than one camera is operating at once. The actors relate to one another by looking in the direction of the speaker and reacting to them. There are even scenes inside the “World of Warcraft.” It all generally works. To enjoy the presentation to the fullest, it’s best to watch it on the largest screen you have available, and with headphones.

It is hard to believe that all the actors are part of A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts program, class of 2022 because they are all such skilled and confident actors. The several supporting roles, well-played by Wesley Guimarães and Madeline Isabel Yagle, add different perspectives on love. And Wesley Guimarães is incredibly funny as the outrageous hairdresser.

Playwright Madhuri Shekar is an alumna of the Juilliard Playwriting program, a fellow at New Dramatists, and the 2020 winner of the Lanford Wilson Playwriting Award. Her “House of Joy” premiered at Cal Shakes (Orinda, Calif.) last summer (https://culturevulture.net/theater/house-of-joy/). Her audio play, “Evil Eye,” won the 2020 Audie Award for Best Original Work. Shekar is a talented and rising dramatist to watch.

By Emily S. Mendel 

© Emily S. Mendel 2020   All Rights Reserved

emilymendel@gmail.com

San Francisco ,
Emily S. Mendel, a writer and photographer, has been a regular contributor to culturevulture.net since 2006, where she reviews theater, art, film, television and destinations. Ending her 30-year law practice has given Ms. Mendel the time to indulge in her love of travel and the arts, and to serve as the theater reviewer for berkeleyside.com.