Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft are just a few of the video games mentioned in Vertigo Theatre’s production of n00b, directed by Nathan Pronyshyn. Since its world premiere in Calgary of 2010, n00b has made a large impact on viewers, by speaking up about the negative repercussions of the virtual world.
The play is written and performed by Christopher Duthie, and deals with a 15-year-old teenager, named Daniel (Christopher Duthie), who is obsessed with online gaming. Daniel’s parents believe that the relationships he has with people online are affecting his relationships with the people who he knows in reality. The slang term “n00b” refers to an inexperienced player of video games. In this one-man play, however, Daniel is quite the opposite of an inexperienced video gamer. The play is honest in its way of tackling the idea that for some video game enthusiasts, playing video games with other people creates a sense of community. n00b delves into the reality of gaming in today’s society and shows how it can be difficult for frequent gamers to separate their lives online from their lives in reality.
Duthie is versatile in his acting techniques and is able to seamlessly go from portraying Daniel to becoming a protective father, who will stop at nothing to make sure his son is protected from the virtual world – even going so far as to throw out Daniel’s game console all together. Duthie’s versatility as an actor is what keeps the audience interested in the play. His ability to use minimal gestures and still make a powerful impact on the audience is nothing short of incredible.
The set design by Deitra Kalyn is minimalistic. Only a few white, box-like objects are placed on the stage. These rectangular structures are used to project the video games that Daniel is playing. Though this initially seems to be an interesting aesthetic choice, I find that certain projections take away from the impact of the play, itself. The video games being played by Daniel are also projected onto Daniel’s face and, at times, it becomes difficult to clearly see what Daniel is doing throughout certain scenes. These projections would be clearer and much less distracting if they were projected onto a screen, instead of onto the set and actor.
The honest way in which n00b portrays the sentiments and opinions of many gamers makes for an enjoyable and heartfelt story in which many viewers will not only find examples of themselves, but will also be eager to learn more about how this video game culture has created different types of relationships among people.
n00b is running at Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front Street East, until February 20th. Tickets are available by phone at 416.862.2222. For information visit: https://tickets.youngpeoplestheatre.ca/TheatreManager/1/login&event=59
photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann