Pittsburgh Fringe 2018
Solo theatre is an amazing world of possibility and David Lawson has certainly been ticking off some interesting destinations. His latest adventure takes him home though and on a little trip down memory lane only to be sharply returned to the politics and personalities of the present day.
Being somewhat of a closet video gamer as well as a confirmed fan of super spy 007, I knew I had to check out David Lawson’s latest solo show No Oddjob. Descending into the basement theatre at St. Mary’s Lyceum on Pittsburgh’s north side felt a little like heading over to a friend’s den on a school night for some sneaky gaming before homework and being greeted by the eclectic soundtrack of gaming themes inspired memories of some of the multi-level, multi-player, gaming extravaganzas of my youth.
Bounding onto the stage Lawson is an engaging and dynamic storyteller recounting anecdotes of growing up and his gaming obsessions over the years. From secretly playing the Nazi shoot-em-up Wolfenstein 3D at the Jewish Community Center to his observations on multi-level simulators and more, Lawson takes us on a journey through his digital life illustrating many of the stories with digital imagery and video projection while engaging the audience in their own remembrances. The darkened space and musty air definitely assist in setting the basement atmosphere, but there’s more to this show than anecdotes and memories. As well as a trip down memory lane we are also asked to consider the effect of video games on today’s society. Lawson’s hypothesis that games inspire players but do not in themselves create monsters is a little hard to follow and at times the argument seems a little thin but his passion for his platform is certainly clear. I personally particularly associated with some parts of the show having shared in many of the experiences myself.
Having a prior knowledge of the world of video gaming is not a prerequisite to see this show but it certainly helps. While Lawson is energetic in his love of consoles, computers, and everything digital, one feels that less-informed audiences may feel a little lost in Lawson’s universe. Perhaps a little more insight into the impact of video games worldwide would help set the scene a little more and I would certainly have liked more multimedia examples to be included. Nostalgia buffs, however, will enjoy the trip down memory lane and video virgins will surely find much to engage them.If you’re looking for something fun and a little different, look no further than right here.