Like most shows in the Brick’s Antidepressant Festival, Sneaky Snake Productions’ Adventure Quest has a silly premise: The play is set in the world of an electronic adventure game. As in the beyond-retro “Kings Quest” series, a Hero (Kent Meister) hustles to rescue the town of Perilton from the wizard Evilicus, scouring different areas for clues to help him on his mission, bartering with automaton townsfolk, etc. The production clearly adores its source: The music’s kitschy goofiness is spot-on, and the décor is as fecund and garish as the pixilated landscapes that inspired it. Even those who never played “Grim Fandango” till their eyes bled will appreciate the aesthetic.
Such a setup could have devolved into a geeky nostalgia trap if writer Richard Lovejoy didn’t have higher aspirations. Taking a turn à la Neo, the Hero soon “wakes up” and realizes that—he’s a person! The subsequent flashes of his humanity within the game’s frigid universe make for the play’s best moments. Perhaps too quickly, though, the script fixates on the game-world/real-world metaphor, and then, for 70 minutes, follows it to its heavy-handed end—lightweight existentialism—as our Hero plods through questions like, “Why do I do what I do?” Art from twee anguish—what’s antidepressant about that?