Although Madhuri Shekar’s In Love and Warcraft debuted in 2013, it feels custom-written for this moment in time. As it delves into the nuances of living a significant part of one's life online, In Love and Warcraft gives its Generation Z characters a shot at love, while reveling in their individual goofy streaks and neuroses. Directed by Peter J. Kuo, and starring six American Conservatory Theater (ACT) Conservatory students, this candid ode to college romance wears a Zoom container comfortably—as if it were meant to be performed that way all along.
In Love and Warcraft was originally slated to be performed in the Spring at ACT’s Costume Shop, so the actors did have the luxury of having already rehearsed together in real life, helping them in transition to all-digital platforms with natural ease. There’s real chemistry between protagonist Evie (Cassandra Hunter) and the object of her tentative desire, Raul (Hernán Angulo)—and plenty of mutual fondness and easy camaraderie among the rest of the ensemble as well.
An avid player of a multi-player fantasy game that Shekar calls “Warcraft Universe,” Evie’s side hustle is writing love letters for her classmates. She's a modern-day Cyrano, whose specialties include Facebook posts, text messages, and heartfelt emails. But Evie’s own love life is suspect. Her teammate Ryan (James Mercer)—an amiable nerd with an affinity for Red Vines—is supposedly her boyfriend, but all of their “dates” take place online. Meanwhile, her sex-positive roommate Kitty (Evangeline Edwards) urges her to break it off and explore the exciting possibilities of physical romance. The opportunity to do so presents itself almost immediately in the form of Raul, a former client of Evie’s, who’s fallen for the loving words she’d written to his now-ex.
If the scenario is a little contrived, what's completely genuine is the relatable awkwardness of Evie’s inexpert foray into the unknown. With Kitty urging her on from the sidelines, Evie screws her courage to the sticking point—until she gets stuck. Uncertain of her own desires, she discovers that the reliable language of love that she’s deployed faithfully on behalf of others is not enough to express the complexities of her own feelings. Meanwhile, a smitten Raul soon discovers that he must also navigate aspects of their relationship that are new to him as well.
As Evie, Hunter is a delight to watch. Her every gesture and nose wrinkle speaks volumes of dork-ish. Her excitement on the Warcraft battlefield is matched by her real expertise in the game. That she thinks of romance in game terms makes her valuable as a go-between. But, as she discovers for herself, keeping a scorecard in personal relationships is a recipe for misadventure.