To start your FREE subscription to the Triangle Review, click

Edited and Published by Robert W. McDowell

April 11, 2024 Issue
PART 6 (April 15, 2023)

A FREE Weekly E-mail Newsletter Covering Theater, Dance, Music, and Film in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area of North Carolina Since April 2001.


The Game by Bekah Brunsetter Explores the Impact
of an MMORPG-Addicted Spouse on His Marriage

Lucas Dixon and Megan Ketch star as Homer and Alyssa in The Game by Bekah Brunsetter (photo by HuthPhoto)

PlayMakers Repertory Company's last show of its 2023-24 season is the world premiere of The Game by Winston-Salem native and University of North Carolina alumna Bekah Brunsetter, who wrote for NBC's This Is Us and wrote the book for The Notebook The Musical, which opened on Broadway last month.

The Game, directed by PlayMakers Rep's producing artistic director Vivienne Benesh, is the first production funded by PlayMakers' New Play Commissions Fund for the creation of plays that promote Southern stories and women's voices.

Though based on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, The Game is set in current-day Troy, North Carolina, not ancient Troy in Asia Minor. It features five women of differing generations and circumstances, who have formed a support group for women whose partners are addicted to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) aptly called The Game.

The group is formed by Alyssa (Megan Ketch), who is a successful architect at the child-bearing stage of her marriage, and is comprised of four other women: pregnant military wife Cleo (Elizabeth Dye); online-auction fashionista Rhonda (Kathryn Hunter-Williams); childless older widow Myra (Cinny Strickland), and lesbian war photographer Jen (Sanjana Taskar).

Megan Ketch stars as Alyssa at PlayMakers Rep in The Game by Bekah Brunsetter (photo by HuthPhoto)

Ketch portrays Alyssa with angst and desperation that conjured my own feelings, nearly 20 years ago, when my husband was spending more time playing World of Warcraft than with the kids and me. I grew teary when Alyssa confronts the possibility of divorcing her husband over The Game, because I have been in exactly that place.

But The Game is a comedy, and Ketch and the other actors deliver their often-poignant marital messages with laughable "It happens to all of us" aplomb. A highlight of the production is Cinny Strickland performance as Myra. She plays Myra with grandmotherly, baby-boomer, wisdom-concealing ditziness. Strickland's well-rounded rendition of her character called to mind so many women that I know.

Lucas Dixon stars as Homer in The Game by Bekah Brunsetter at PlayMakers Rep (photo by HuthPhoto)

The play takes place in Alyssa's large and affluent living room, with interludes from her husband's video-game man cave, which rises from beneath the stage from time to time.

Brunstetter's writing highlights the women's disparate personalities, while enveloping them (and the audience) in their common womanhood and need to be seen by their partners.

In fact, in every character, I saw women that I've known throughout my life -- a true testament to the heart-touching universality of playwright Bekah Brunstetter's writing, and the talented team of actors in this production.

Megan Ketch and Lucas Dixon star as Alyssa and Homer in The Game by Bekah Brunsetter (photo by HuthPhoto)

Lucas Dixon makes his PlayMakers debut as Homer, the MMORPG-addicted husband of Alyssa. Homer's lazy, laid-off, video-game-playing college-boy lifestyle is driving Alyssa to the point of leaving. Dixon plays Homer with ease, underscoring the ludicrousness of a very real situation. It could just as easily have been my husband in his comfy "office" chair, playing Warcraft at 2 in the morning with a regular partner who lived in New Zealand. I was mentally uplifted by the similarities, the validation of my feelings at that time, and the assurance that I was and am still not alone.

Scenic designer Lee Savage's set is gorgeous. I wanted that spacious and luxurious living room in my own house. It provides plenty of space to view the physical interactions of all the actors.

Having the man-cave chair and video console rise and disappear from beneath the stage -- the same way a video-addicted partner or family member rises from and disappears back into their solitude -- is genius.

The cast for PlayMakers Rep's world-premiere presentation of The Game by Bekah Brunsetter includes (from left) Elizabeth Dye as Cleo,
Kathryn Hunter-Williams as Rhonda, Megan Ketch as Alyssa, Cinny Strickland as Myra, and Sanjana Taskar as Jen (photo by HuthPhoto)

But the most meaningful part of Lee Savage's set is the Pantheon-like building that forms the backdrop of the stage -- giant three-dimensional, marble-like stone columns beneath a giant gable roof that looks as if it were plucked from the ruins of ancient Rome. The statement is clear: regardless of digital and MMORPG technology, the relationship issues portrayed here today have persisted throughout human history, and always will.

When the production is over, the audience is left laughing at the intrusion of MMORPGs in their own lives, relieved in the acknowledgement that such marital/partner challenges can be overcome, and hopeful in the likelihood of forming meaningful connections with friends they have yet to meet.

Seeing The Game is sure to be an entertaining and meaningful way to spend your next date night. Who knows? It may pave the way for overcoming the intrusion of MMORPGs in your own family.

PlayMakers Rep's world-premiere presentation of The Game by Bekah Brunsetter stars (from left) Elizabeth Dye as Cleo, Kathryn
Hunter-Williams as Rhonda, Megan Ketch as Alyssa, Cinny Strickland as Myra, and Sanjana Taskar as Jen (photo by HuthPhoto)

Bekah Brunsetter's THE GAME (In-Person WORLD PREMIERE at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 16-21 and 23-28), directed by producing artistic director Vivienne Benesh and starring (in alphabetical order) Lucas Dixon as Homer, Elizabeth Dye as Cleo, Kathryn Hunter-Williams as Rhonda, Megan Ketch as Alyssa, Cinny Strickland as Myra, and Sanjana Taskar as Jen (PlayMakers Repertory Company in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC-Chapel Hill's Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art). DIGITAL PROGRAM: TRAILER: PRC VIDEOS: PRESENTER:,,,, and 2024-25 SEASON: PRC BLOG: VENUE: and DIRECTIONS/PARKING: CAROLINA TOGETHER COVID-19 PAGE: THE GAME (2024 world-premiere play): and THE SCRIPT (excerpts): BEKAH BRUNSTETTER (Winston-Salem, NC-born playwright and screenwriter):,,,,, and NOTE 1: The 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21st, performance will be an open-captioned, with a "universal-access" live-caption unit, communicating dialog, stage directions, and sound effects. NOTE 2: Following the 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21st, performancehere will be a post-show discussion with cast members. NOTE 3: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe and American-sign-language interpret the show's 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23rd, performance. AGE RECOMMENDATION: According to PlayMakers Rep, "Due to adult language and subject matter, this play is best suited for ages 14+ [emphasis added]." TICKETS: $20 and up ($10 students and youth), plus taxes and fees. Click here to buy tickets. INFORMATION: 919-962-7529 or PLEASE DONATE TO: PlayMakers Repertory Company.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A Durham, NC resident for 20 years, Melissa Rooney is a scientific editor, freelance writer, and author of several science-based children's picture books. She has published children's stories and verse in Highlights Children's Magazine and Bay Leaves. Rooney earned undergraduate degrees in English and Chemistry from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA; and she earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1998 from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her stories Eddie the Electron and The Fate of the Frog form the basis of two workshops offered through the Durham Arts Council's Culture and Arts in the Public Schools (CAPS) program, through which Rooney teaches elementary- and middle-school students about electrons and atoms or sustainability and rhyme, respectively. When she isn't writing, editing, reading, teaching, or experiencing theater, Rooney volunteers as a Soil and Water Conservationist for the nonprofit Urban Sustainability Solutions. Click here to read Melissa Rooney's reviews for Triangle Review.


WHAT: Triangle Review is a FREE weekly e-mail performing-arts and film newsletter, edited and published by Robert W. McDowell since April 2001.

TO SUBSCRIBE: To start your FREE subscription today, sign up in the subscription box at the beginning of this e-mail; or e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE-TR in the Subject: line. TO UNSUBSCRIBE: E-mail and type UNSUBSCRIBE-TR in the Subject: line.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? E-mail all questions, comments, and Letters to the Editor to For Letters to the Editor, please include a daytime telephone number in your e-mail.

COPYRIGHT: Editorial content in all formats © 2024 Triangle Review and the author of each article. Reproduction in any form without authorization of Triangle Review and the respective authors is prohibited. Triangle Review maintains an archive of past issues. To request copies of past articles and/or issues, e-mail