I’ll admit to having to turn to the internet for a little research to refresh my knowledge of the online game RuneScape before attending a performance of RuneSical now playing at the Gilded Balloon’s Patter Hoose venue this Edinburgh Fringe.
Gigglemug Theatre have form for creating musicals from the unlikeliest subjects, their last outing at the Fringe was with the runaway hit success Timpson The Musical, based on the origins of the key cutting and cobblers shop. So, it should come as no surprise that their latest musical takes inspiration from a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).
The internet research was unnecessary; the opening scenes of RuneSical take the form of a tutorial, led by Wise Old Man (Sam Cochrane), designed to help ‘noobs’ navigate their way through Gielinor. It’s not the only way that the musical gives loving nods to the game, and seasoned players will appreciate the many easter eggs laced through the plot.
But even those who have never allowed their avatar to set foot in a fantasy realm will be swept up in the jolly good fun of it all. Gigglemug have become the masters of comedy musical theatre, and RuneSical doesn’t lose any experience points on this front, it’s laugh out loud funny and suitable for all ages.
With the tutorial out the way we follow Lance_054 (Tonny Shim) on his first quest in the realm of Gielinor who, in this performance, joined forces with Odin The Destroyer, to take on everything from disgruntled trolls to jaunty fishermen. You may see something slightly different, because much like the game, the outcome is based on the choices we (the audience in this case) make.
It adds an additional dimension to the performance and helps the audience get on board, after all what fun is a game if you can’t join in? As the in-game story progresses we find out more about the player behind the avatar, and we discover how the real and imaginary worlds can overlap.
Writers, Sam Cochrane and Alex Prescot have an immeasurable talent for writing musical theatre songs, don’t let the fact that this is a comedy fool you in to believing it doesn’t have a quality score. The songs are beautifully written and most of them are real ear worms, and half the audience were still singing them as we stepped out on to Nicholson Street.
The cast do a great job at bringing all the various characters to life, with most of them having to multi-role there’s even more laughs as we work out how they’ll pull off the next scene. TJ Douglas-Welsh as Odin gets one of the best songs of the show, and it’s performed superbly.
Gigglemug Theatre have another triumph on their hands with RuneSical, bringing thrilling gameplay to the stage with the added benefit of a wonderful score.