|Playwright/star Amy Conway.|
Seen on: Monday, 11/05/18.
My grade: A
Plot and BackgroundAmy Conway brings her solo show, which has also played in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to New York's United Solo Theatre Festival. Her interactive one-hour play uses her love of classic video games as a lens to explore her struggles with depression.
What I Knew BeforehandI knew the premise, and that the play came highly recommended from a good friend of mine who'd seen it in Edinburgh. I will admit to not being a gamer myself (I never did have good hand-eye coordination), but I used to watch when my sister and brother played Nintendo and, later, Super Nintendo, so the game references were not entirely lost on me.
It's more interactive than I usually prefer my sit-down theater (as opposed to the immersive stuff where you more or less know what you've committed to, going in), and yet I didn't mind that element. The quest to defeat the darkness becomes a joint mission, not just for Amy, but for all of us in the room. We help gather empathy points, heart points; we serve as the negative thoughts for her to defeat; and in one moment during which I held my breath, one audience member helps guide a blinded but trusting Amy across a treacherous lava floor. It was no surprise, at the performance that I saw, that once the show was complete, the entire audience stayed to help clean up the mess we'd made. That's part of healing, too, after all. Conway's piece balances the humor of play, the nostalgic fondness for (wow, those graphics) old video game tech, and the desolate ache of feeling like there's no way out. She doesn't shy from the pain of depression, or from how insurmountable it can seem when one is buried in sadness. Even as the piece gets intensely personal, she also makes her audience feel seen, feel recognized. On top of all those effective #feels, Super Awesome World is also just a really well-built piece of theater with a simultaneously surprising and inevitable conclusion.
Running: Played at Theatre Row (United Solo Theatre Festival).
Category: solo show
Length: 1 hour, no intermission.
Playwright & Actor: Amy Conway
Director, Sound & Video Design: Rob Jones