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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Theatre review: Monsterkill 5: Remonsterkilled (Or, We Were the Empty Set) is muddled

Satire from The Cascadian Institute of Cultural Design fails to score a winning hit

While the first inclination may be to describe Monsterkill 5: Remonsterkilled (Or, We Were the Empty Set) as a hybrid of Black Mirror and Tron, this new play from the equally cumbersome The Cascadian Institute of Cultural Design comes nowhere near the level of the futuristically clever Netflix series or the classic 1982 Disney film.

Instead, while there may be a germ of an idea inside Monsterkill 5, it is largely an 80-minute muddle about a group of future humans trapped inside a video game, doomed to kill, and be killed, for eternity.

Growing repetitive very quickly, Monsterkill 5 not only misses the mark as a satire on video game culture, its attempts to go deeper, with a broader comment on our society’s disposition towards violence, never scores a winning hit either.

One could easily be forgiven in thinking these five “players” were somehow trapped inside the video game, rather than as avatars as the show description insists. But it is never clear how they got there, or what the end goal really is.

With no potential winner (or loser), and no threat of dying, the stakes are extremely low. And even when they band together against the creator of the video game it never really amounts to anything, and before long they are back to killing each other once again.

A trip to the Cascadian Institute website for some enlightenment only adds to the confusion. The company of Monsterkill 5 seemed to be taking themselves seriously but based on the information on the company’s website the joke may very well be on us. Now that would be the real satire.

Monsterkill 5: Remonsterkilled (Or, We Were the Empty Set) with script and direction by Matt Horgan. A production of The Cascadian Institute of Cultural Design. On stage at the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver) until November 3. Visit for tickets and information.

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