Quite simply, Gamers, the new one-man play created and performed by Brian Bielawski, is made of awesome, as his
character Steve might put it. In a pitch-perfect comedic performance that captures the essence of computer-gaming
geeks around the globe, Bielawski (with co-writer Walter G. Meyer and director Wes Grantom) have crafted a gem of a
theatre piece that can speak to both to the Internet-savvy technoratis and tap into the inner rage of any office jockey. This is
the kind of show that makes attending FringeNYC totally worthwhile, and is a flat-out riot from start to finish.
In a blackout, the character of Steve begins with an epic description of how his band of followers, the Knights of Albion,
have too long struggled underneath the rule of the elves, and today will be his St. Crispin's Day-esque assault to reclaim
the thieved relic from their evil clutches. When the lights come up suddenly, we see that Steve is a tech-support guru for
the fictional Solvitech, on a headset in a cubicle surrounded by Mountain Dew bottles and wearing a deliciously funny
Homestar Runner hoodie. Quickly the situation is explained to an unseen co-worker that Steve is leading a phalanx of
knights, mages, gnomes and dwarves on a real-time assault on the Elven region—this of course, in a video game slang
that mirrors the wildly popular Worlds of Warcraft online role-playing. Steve has chosen a workday, a Tuesday morning,
so that the elves (technically, the gamers playing the elves) will never see it coming (or be at work).
Of course all hell breaks loose on that day at the office (Steve couldn't beg off work from his evil boss, Ms. Krakower). He
can't get the computer to work fast enough, he's interrupted by a zillion idiotic tech support phone calls, his mother wants
him to apply to M.I.T., and it's his two-year anniversary with his girlfriend Jenny, which he of course forgot to buy a gift for.
And Krakower wants to fire him at the first available opportunity. Steve winds up juggling phone calls and instant
messages while still leading the real-time assault on the elves, and in the process, takes himself on a revelatory journey
of his own.
So why does the piece work on so many levels? For starters, Bielawski absolutely inhabits the role of Steve, nailing every
bit of Leet-speak and geek-centric pop culture references imaginable (Star Trek:The Next Generation, South Park, Borat,
etc.) and with the right balance of snark and pathos. The drama is heightened by the great direction from Grantom, who
keeps things ebbing and flowing for Steve—as opposed to falling into that trap of having it at a high-strung level
throughout. There are so many jokes that work during the show because Bielawski understands that while Steve is a
definite nerd for playing in a fantasy world, he's also human, which gives him both character flaws and a heart.
There are several million hard-core gamers who will understand both the nuances of the language and the joy of total
immersion in another world. Whether its sports, theatre, bridge club, or everyday life, a person who is immersed in any
subject makes that perception his or her reality. And this lets Gamers achieve a universality that many plays with weightier
subject matter often flop at. If this play isn't one of the hits of FringeNYC, I'll order my orcs and mages to attack at once.
:: Josh Sherman, nytheater.com ::
:: Gregory Wilson, curtainup.com ::
Indeed, Brian Bielawski and Walter G. Meyer get so much right about the life of a gaming geek, here embodied in the
character Steve (played believably by Bielawski), an MIT dropout who rules the universe of an online role-playing game
and works a real life tech support job to support his virtual one, that the non-gaming members of the audience which find
his behavior so bizarrely funny would probably be shocked to learn how accurate the portrayal actually is. What's fun
about this show is that it packs more inside gamer/techie/webhead jokes into an hour than seems possible without
leaving the "outsider" part of the audience behind, and thus everyone gets to have a good time….both gamers and non-
gamers alike will enjoy its humor is reason enough to recommend it. Link to Full Review
:: William Haley, Destructoid ::
:: Mallory Jensen, offoffonline.com ::
:: David Lefkowitz, Theater News Online ::
Bielawski has a good sense of humor about the MMOG phenomenon and the people caught up in it, and he makes the
short play very entertaining to watch...Gamers manages the neat trick of making the isolated MMOG player’s world into
something others can enjoy watching. Link to Full Review
What the critics said about the 15-minute version of the play, formerly titled /out of character, when it was presented in the
Midtown International Theater Festival:
Brian Bielawski's /out of character could hardly be improved upon. Reminiscent of the pre-mime work of Steven Banks,
Bielawski's solo features a harried employee doing everything he can to avoid actually working. In this case, he's a man
in the tech-support division of a computer firm who spends nearly all his time playing a complicated video game. He
(and a host of online buddies) are just about to storm a fortress of elves - if only the phone would stop ringing and his
boss would stop pestering him. This keeps Bielawski frantically switching from office phone to cell phone to keyboard to
cubicle-mate to boss, all with whizbang timing not a second, dare I say, out of character. Link to Full Review
There have been a lot of shows, random videos, and shorts lately based on or inspired by videogames, so it was with a
weary and reluctant heart that I watched GAM3RS, a freaking play of all things (Eww! Gross! Culture!). But this little one-
man show had something all too many of the others don't. It was... God, what's that word again? I haven't used it in so
long... Oh yeah, "enjoyable." And not just enjoyable and funny, but well-made, obviously by a true gamer who cleverly
wrote the play to work on two different levels, much like Shrek appeals to kids and their parents in two very antithetic
ways. So even if you don't know the agony of wiping in Molten Core because your priest ran out to the liquor store for a
pack of cigarettes, you will still laugh. A lot… I guarantee this won't be the last time you hear of GAM3RS, so you may
want to become a fan now. That way in a year or two when everyone is buying it on DVD so Fox will uncancel the sitcom
version you can say "Oh yeah, well I liked GAM3RS before anyone even knew what it was, n00bz!"
Link to Full Review
:: GAM3RS /the reviews ::
New England Institute of Art
Lestat's Coffee House
University of San Diego
NY Intnt'l Fringe Festival
:: Pat Launer, San Diego News Network ::
...Bielawski is a terrific, appealing, head-spinning performer. Dude! You can’t not like this show. It’s fast (one hour)
and fast-paced. It’s funny (even for Muggles). And it either introduces you to a new world, or shows you how bizarre,
outrageous and adolescent the one(s) you’re in look from the outside. “I am not afraid to grow up,” Steve protests.
So don’t be a “butt-munch.” Get out from under your cloaking fog. Enter the portal. And, take Steve’s advice: “Book the
warlock choir for the after-raid party.”
Read Full Review
:: Jean Lowerison, GLT News Now ::
Listen up, geeks and gamers: there’s a late-night show at ion theatre just for you. Yes, you’ll have to turn off the
electronics for an hour or so, but dude, take my word for it, it’s worth it...And even non-gamers like this old bag will find
it easy to be drawn into this strange universe.
Read Full Review
:: Don Braunagel, SanDiego.com ::
...The mirth comes in watching Bielawski’s exquisite timing as he frantically multitasks, juggling his actual and fantasy
FWIW, my verdict on the show: LOL.
Read Full Review