Theatre Review: First Person Shooter

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Certain plays are provocative, even disturbing, depicting things you wouldn’t want to experience in real life.
You could say the same about video games. The violent ones award points for killing animated enemies.

In “First Person Shooter,” we meet the owner of Jet Pack Games, a computer geek who’s after bloody realism.

“If we can physically model the effects on his skeleton from the gunshot, think about it. I shoot him there, his shin snaps. His knee collapses and he falls forward. That’s what the player will actually see. Something totally believable. (Laughs)”

The play becomes chilling when two boys dress as commandos and slaughter 14 kids at school. Turns out they used a Jet Pack game to repeatedly rehearse their rampage. Soon the lawyers get involved, then the media. With his company on the ropes, Jet Pack’s owner decides to go negative – and undercut the grieving parents.

“The question is how dirty do you want to get?”
“Do whatever it takes, Tommy.”

This dark contemporary drama is tense, and often profane. And it raises deep, lingering questions, about artistic freedom versus moral responsibility, and how far entertainment should go, turning a buck while simulating violent death.

"First Person Shooter" continues through November 2nd at Capital Stage on the Delta King Riverboat in Old Sacramento.