We are back from Heroic Consequences, the best UK-based LARP convention: four days of freeforms, parties and curly fries in a Butlins holiday camp in Dorset. It was terrific, as usual. This year was all about American freeforms for me. I got to play both The Curse and The Prison. Wow!
I dragged myself up at 8 am to play The Curse with Graham Walmsey, Mik Reed, Elina and CJ. I was a little daunted to play this beautiful 4-hour LARP about relationships and breast cancer at such an early hour, but fortunately Graham makes great coffee.
We struggled a bit getting started and switched a few parts around. Elina and me had already divvied up the women beforehand, and thus had plenty of time to sink into the intimate and psychological character sheets.
I played Elle, the younger woman who is uncertain if her 20-something passionate relationship will survive the consequences of her genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Elina played Rita, the older sister who has to decide if she wants to risk passing the genetic deficiency onto her children. Mik played Elina’s overly analytical husband who was struggling to support his wife and deal with the changed releationship. CJ played my passionate painter boyfriend, an eternal manchild who had filled our small apartment with nude paintings of me.
We went through a structured set of scenes that told the story of how these women dealt with their medical problems with or without the men in their life. CJ played the part of the deadbeat boyfriend very well. He was charming, passionate, crude and irresponsible. And decidedly not relationship material!
Elle: I fucking love you!
Peter: And I love fucking you.
In contrast to our shouting and other dramatics, Mik and Elina were having a series of mature conversations that invariably seemed to take place at the kitchen table. Their conflicts and frustrations were subdued and intense. I only met Mik at this game. He seemed like a lovely player and I’m bummed I didn’t get to play anything else with him.
There are also two important props in the game: two envelopes filled with a test result, one for each sister. Holding that envelope in your hands and feeling the stress that come with it while your partner is rambling on about their day…. It carries a very powerful impact. Opening it and reading the results equally so. I had read them wrong first, and CJ had to correct me. Right then and there (and I think most Elle’s with me), I decided I would have a mastectomy. “Will you still paint me… afterwards?”
Near the end of the game I everyone in the room seemed to wonder why my character was still with CJ’s Peter, especially after the bar scene where the two guys got together.
Jared: Our relationship has hit some lumps.
Peter: So did ours, but she’s thinking of having hers removed.
But I felt she genuinely needed his manic pixie dream guy influence and he was so sincerely trying. I could only break it off with him in the epilogue. So much for learning from my 20s! In the epilogue my character was married to a dependable accountant named Tom and had two IVF children. But it was clear that there was joyous part of her life she had to sacrifice in order to get her life on the rails.
And that was the game! Graham did a great job directing, and it was good to see an example of how to call for cuts, inner monologues, repeats, and so on. I was also very happy our debrief exercise, which made us focus on the one thing we felt we did badly during the game, and throw it away.
We all stepped out of the cabin feeling decidedly light and content. The game slowly simmered in my mind throughout the day. Though I had not suffered from bleed much at all while playing, I was surprised to find myself angry at CJ at random parts throughout the day. Usually after remembering something outrageous he had said.
Fortunately, CJ and me get on very well and we shared a few laughs about it. We even arranged to play a board game on sunday. Then he callously ditched me an hour beforehand because he had booked two games at once… Some things never change!