Werewolf: Live! ReviewJul 27, 2018
Werewolves of London, Edinburgh, and Beyond: Live (The Review)
Dawn breaks at the quiet little village (which the audience just named, and used something related to the heat rather than a dick joke) and all is peaceful…
At least until the latest victim of the werewolf attacks is discovered, torn to pieces, blood and viscera all over the walls. Someone has to pay. And chances are that it won’t be one of the hidden werewolves in human form.
This is Werewolf: Live, the stage adaptation of the classic party game of hidden roles, accusations, and lynchings. WHAT A PARTY!
LORDS AND KINGS
Coaching for Geeks overlord, Robin Bates, headed down to the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, London to tackle the foul beasts and lose his head (spoilers, he died).
Entering the pub theatre, we took our seats amongst the gathered crowd (in the name of journalistic integrity we were given two review tickets), pint in hand and anticipation building.
House lights down, master of ceremonies Jon Gracy emerged on stage all spooky in a cloak with the hood up to introduce and explain the deadly goings on.
WHAT EVEN IS WEREWOLF?
For those who haven’t played Werewolf (or Mafia), this is a live game devised in the 80s which features 2 teams; the Werewolves, and the Villagers, with one villager taking the Seer role.
Roles are given at random via a deck of cards, and all roles are hidden. However, the Werewolves know who the other monstrous beasts are, and the Seer is able to secretly learn the identity of one player each night. What they do with that information is up to them, but saying ‘hey I’m the Seer’ will surely lead to their demise.
Play takes place over a number of days; in the night phase the Villagers sleep (close their eyes), and the Werewolves awaken and choose a victim to kill before disappearing back into the night (by also closing their eyes). The Seer chooses a person to learn the identify of, silently, and then goes back to sleep.
Morning comes and everyone wakes up… OR DO THEY?
No they do not for one has been killed.
The Villagers then throw accusations around, with the Werewolves attempting to throw them off the scent, and the Seer doing their best to guide them to the Werewolves identities, if they have learned who they are.
If a vote for a lynching is instigated, and enough players back it, then the player is eliminated and their role revealed.
If the Villagers manage to remove the Werewolf menace then they win, if not then the village is doomed to lupine torment.
PARLOUR GAMES REACH THE STAGE
And this is where the stage show really comes into its own, under the deft hand of Jon Gracy, the players are led into their positions of accusation, defence, outrage, and this is simply very funny to watch.
In the short time available to the players do they dare put their head above the parapet, do they lie low and hope for the best, maybe forming an alliance with the players either side of you will work?
It’s really hard to describe how well this works on stage (tough luck, you’re reviewing it!) as Gracey’s narration really drives it forward. The descriptions of the dead, and the hilarious methods of lynching carrying it forward, even when the players’ interactions may be sagging a little; the catapult and the death meadow seemingly surprising even the host as the words came from his mouth.
In our three games the Werewolves largely ran away with it – and the audience are encouraged to close their eyes in the first game so it’s a surprise, open them in the second so they know, and make their own choice for the third. Laughter aplenty as bad decisions are made and people wiggle and squirm their way into, out of, and back into danger.
It’s fast paced, each game lasting about 15 minutes so it doesn’t drag, especially if you’re dead.
The ‘first player dead’ hat brings the first eliminations of each round back for one more game.
The host is really very funny.
Being throttled by the name boards – they had short lengths of string.
If time is up in negotiations, a member of the audience is asked for a random number and a random player is killed. This takes away the agency from the players and could do with a more elegant solution. One final bid for a lynching perhaps?
Table mics would help, even in a small venue.
DID WE LIKE IT THEN?
We don’t do stars for our reviews, so we’ll keep it simple.
If this even vaguely sounds like your sort of thing, go and see it.
And put your hand up, get on stage, and fight for your life (or keep quiet and fly under the radar for a while).
It’s a Coaching for Geeks Recommended!
Werewolf: Live is running at the Underbelly, at the Edinburgh Fringe throughout August. Get your tickets here.
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