Friday, 26 August 2011

Review: iQuest: The Musical

Paul Keating and Shane Warne have musicals. So does marijuana, genetics, and Elle Woods. In an age where no taboo is musically untouched, you might ask where else the musical could possibly go? 'iQuest' answers that question with a ripe sense of the ridiculous: videogame and nerd culture.

Weedy, nerdy Larry sits alone in his basement playing World of Warcraft. His mother worries that he doesn't get out enough, but before this can turn into a serious study of cyber addiction, Larry disappears into cyberspace, meets his dominatrix guide Amy, and is transformed into his hunky avatar Cassius. Through a series of levels he must complete the Ultimate Quest and fight the evil siblings Dr. Z and Mr A and their USB of Doom (which will somehow trigger the formation of a supercontinent and the US taking over the world. Go figure). Along the way he picks up PJizzle (a 90s rapper), Ash (as in Pokemon) and Captain Planet who will aide him in quest.

Half the references sadly went straight over my head. But the ones I did get were well-placed and funny. The first act's Pokemon Battle, and the second's opening with a gone-to-seed Captain Planet are a hoot. 'iQuest' is like a comic-con, ranging from social networking to the vampire craze to Dungeons and Dragons. There's a message in there somewhere about growing up and facing real life, but for iQuest I was happy to indulge in sweet nostalgia for a more naive and innocent time.

There's some solid writing behind iQuest; plenty of good gags (although some overwritten) and a good story arc, told through well-thought and potentially great songs. The production lacked in places, particularly the balance, and there were some awkward timing issues, but this is a rock musical with potential. The finale showed the strength of the talent behind the show, congratulations to the cast and crew for developing this musical from scratch.

'iQuest' is an affectionate homage of nerdy goodness, with a surprising amount of heart.

'iQuest: The Musical' continues today at Union Theatre.

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