Queen’s Players presents Poonanji: Welcome to the Gamestop

The Journal jumps into the land of Poonanji

Queen’s Players performs to a loud crowd at the Mansion on Monday, July 9, 2018.
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I’ve always known one thing: if I was trapped inside a video game, I wouldn’t be entirely sober. 

Thankfully, Queen’s Players was there to ensure their audience was as well-liquored as they were on July 9. 

While I enjoyed a few too many Schooners, and tried to forget that I worked in the morning, Queen’s Players brought me along on an adventure through the weird and blurry world of Poonanji—based on the recent remake of the hit film Jumanji, which tells the story of students who get stuck in a video game. 

For those lucky enough to get a ticket, Queen’s Players is a night out like no other—the interactive theatre experience depends on an enthusiastic audience, and a hefty supply of liquor. 

It works like this: the audience buys performers drinks and cheers them on as they chug them on stage. They sing and dance along to songs they know, and they heckle relentlessly when a performer screws up. In return, the cast provides profane jokes and wild dance routines that make the whole thing worthwhile. 

The summer performance, Poonanji: Welcome to the Gamestop featured a wide cast of characters in board game-related skits. 

As someone whose board game experience consists of Monopoly and Scrabble, most of the references were lost on me. Luckily, with the help of a few Schooners, I didn’t care at all. 

It turns out you don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of board games to appreciate a good sex joke. Watching people pretend to go down on each other is always funny. 

On top of the universality of wildly inappropriate jokes, Poonanji offered characters that everybody understood. 

Brendan Robson, in his first-ever Players production, portrayed a stumbling John A. MacDondald who was chased off the stage by his fellow cast members for asking the audience inappropriate but accurate questions about his life. 

Meanwhile, veteran Player Kate Neweduk portrayed my new favourite character Frosh Girl who, while deep in a battle as part of the game of Poonanji, was searching for her phone and offering the audience Smirnoff Ice. 

For all former Frosh Girls, this performance was pure art. My friends and I were keeled over 

in laughter as we remembered all the joy and laughter Smirnoff Ice has brought us in our life. 

Players works best if you throw yourself into it. If you sit back while everyone else rushes the stage to sing along, it’s simply not as fun. It’s these close-up moments when everyone is singing along that you realize everyone else is just as drunk as you are. 

Players is not meant to be an artistic masterpiece. It feels more like watching the Glee club hang out—if they were all drunk at a bar. It’s clear that Queen’s Players is as good a time for the cast as it is for the audience. The goal is to make people laugh, and they absolutely succeeded. 

Will they win an Oscar? No. Will you enjoy yourself and have a great time? Yes. 

 

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