Writers and Directors: Sam Cochrane and Alex Prescot
You may have never heard of it, you may think it sounds weird and you might never even play it, but regardless RuneScape is a landmark digital phenomenon. An online video game set in a fantasy world, RuneScape has captured the hearts of millions and spawned one of the Internet’s largest and most active communities since it first launched in 2001. These however pale in comparison to the true metric for really making it in pop culture which has eluded RuneScape until now: through the work of Gigglemug Theatre, the game has finally gotten its own independently produced musical. And thankfully, it’s a good one.
While on the face of things, it may seem unwise to adapt a game into a piece of musical theatre, RuneSical show makes the process look effortless through small but intelligent production decisions. Rather than be limited by the story of RuneScape as is, the world of the game is ripped from its original setting and a new narrative is created inside. This new tale follows fresh beginner Lance_054 as he makes his journey all the way from fresh-eyed newbie to dragon-slaying hero, a familiar tale with tried and tested story beats but with some added twists throughout that pay homage to its atypical origins.
Where things get particularly interesting is in the story-telling, with ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style choices at various points in the narrative concerning how the characters should proceed in their journey. These not only lean in brilliantly to the source material of the game itself but also add a layer of simple fun to the whole affair, knowing you can make the narrative sillier or more serious as you like. The only downside here is that there are some odd audio issues when the characters present these choices in the current batch of videos, which can hopefully be cleaned up in an edit.
Rounding all this out is the highly varied offering in terms of songs and music. The live keyboard and guitar are effective at establishing mood in way that’s always a bit camp but all the more enjoyable for this, and when singing everyone hits their notes well, though their aim is always comedic – you’ll be hard-pressed to get through any section without finding something to make you laugh. Last but not least, the songs themselves reliably progress the story as they come and go, often serving to flesh out characters in the process and thereby never outstaying their welcome.
It’s good fun all around, maintaining the whimsical atmosphere so many know and love from the source material while telling a hearty tale that RuneScape veterans and non-initiates alike can easily enjoy.
Runesical is available here on the Gigglemug YouTube Channel