First performed at The Door, Birmingham Repertory Theatre on September 30, 2010.
Maggie Freya Copeland
Ade Bradley Hall
Captain Jones/ Nugget David Hounslow
Tom Ben Jones
Director: Robert Shaw Cameron
Design: Jess Curtis
AV Design: Barret Hodgson
Lighting Design: Richard G. Jones
Sound Design: Dan Hoole
Dramaturg: Caroline Jester
Stage Manager: Paul Southern
Publication: Jenkins, Paul. First Person Shooter. Nick Hern Books, 2010. Drama Library PR6110.E554 F57 2010.
Setting: UK; the present
Language: Contemporary, lots of gamer and military lingo
Good news first—we got a military coup in North Korea, pro-democracy rebels have stormed the people’s palace. Happy days—if it weren’t for the missing warheads on the black market. Then there’s Mohammed Zarqawi—the new pin-up beard for Al-Qaeda. Intel reports he’s shopping for a suitcase nuke to go walkabout. Just another day at the office. Bad news is we got a newbie, fresh out of training…
Plot: A single mother enlists the aid of a computer geek to try to help her reconnect with her 17-year-old son who’s addicted to first person shooter military games. Although the play tackles serious issues, there is humor, which primarily emerges from the collision between gamers and non-gamers and the single-mindedness with which Ade pursues his gaming. However, in a world where unmanned, remotely controlled drones can attack and kill targets, the image of a lonely boy playing video games takes on sinister overtones.
Representative Monologues: Monologues contain the first few lines and the last few lines; please consult the published text for the monologue in its entirety.
p. 21-22: Captain Jones, the commander in a military first-person shooter game, defines key terms in the world of first person shooter games.
To own—verb, spelt P,W,N… To kill, to annihilate, to totally dominate your opponent. Pronounced as O but spelt with P, what originated as a typo by chronic gamers, is now legendary in the gaming lexicon. If you have pwned another player—the pwnage unleashed upon them may be due to the fact that they are a n00b.
A freshly cloned cyber-warrior, with laser-sighted AK-47 and frag grenades, will materialise at a portal nearby. In short—find the n00bs, pwn the n00bs, tea-bag them, get pwned, get tea-bagged, respawn. In no event resort to camping—I repeat, under no circumstances go camping. Now you’re ready to play.
p. 47-48: Captain Nugget describes an attack he survived in Afghanistan.
I was escorting a relief convoy, get the paras out of Musa Qala. It’s getting dark and two mullahs rock up pushing a rusty Volvo. We stop to let them cross, when the boot opens and out pops a granddad in a dress with an RPG. The rocket slams into the side of our Viking and all hell breaks—tracer fire from umpteen Taliban positions. [Lines cut] Just then we hear the rumble of a AC-130 gunship, it’s the Yanks but who cares—next thing the trees are a wall of flame, the smell of burning flesh. Chinook came in an airlifted the casualty back to base… he made it. That’s no UAV did that. That was real soldiers, real pilots, fighting to save each other’s lives.
p.83-84: Captain Nugget tells Ade about the time he almost had to kill someone.
Wouldn’t call it fear. This old mullah and a boy come up to the checkpoint once, the old fella’s waving his arms and the lad’s grinning, but mad like, pushing a wheelbarrow. There’s a body, young woman, kid’s mum by all accounts and she’s had her foot blown off by a mine. Must’ve seen me coming, eh? [Lines cut] I was two-inches in tomorrow’s newspaper… but it was beautiful. Apart from the unholy stench. Stood there like that… felt like fifteen years. The old boy coughed—something come up out of his lung, spat it on the floor, put his pistol in his pocket, sad something to the boy, turned his wheelbarrow… and walked way. Can’t explain that to this day.
p. 9-12: Tom volunteers to talk with Maggie’s son, Ade, when she expresses concern about him always playing alone. Starts with
Leave this to me—not got MBA after my name for nothing.
and ends with
Let me know how it goes—want a Snickers on my desk by the end of the week.
p. 29-32: Ade explains to an Army recruiter why he wants to enlist. Starts with
Play a lot of computer games?
and ends with
I’m ready for lunch.
p.42-44: Ade lies to Tom about his father, tells him he was a soldier in Kosovo and now he’s in a mental hospital, when, in fact, he’s an attorney. Starts with
That’s my dad’s mug.
and ends with
Tell him yourself, when he gets back.
Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism: (Note: article title links are to the online versions, mostly UW-only restricted unless designated as open access.)
(2010, October 7). Grim reality is right on target. Birmingham Post, The (England).
Hickling, A. (2010, October 7). First Person Shooter Birmingham Rep 2/5. Guardian, The (London, England).
Jackson, L. (2010, September 26). Real life war is more like a kids game. Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England).