Karate Man – A Live-Action Video Game {Adelaide Fringe} – Theatre Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The year is 198X and Karate Man has defeated the big boss of Karatetown, Ross Roundkick, and brought peace to his domain. But for Karate Man he is far from being at peace, as he struggles daily to cope with his Karate Man past, and it may cost him his marriage to his beautiful wife, Kara.

The wild minds from Sydney’s BEAK bring to this world, Karate Man – A Live-Action Video Game. The concept is that it’s an interactive theatre show where the crowd members control the actions of the main character, Karate Man, and in turn control the direction of the story. And yes, it is a real control, not a gimmick. It’s so fun and unique, creating a really cool dynamic and experience.

The stage is presented in the style of an 80’s arcade fighter, with characters moving left and right on the front portion of the stage, and a background booth behind where a cast member takes control of the audio cues and keeps things on track.

The storyline very loosely follows a script, more of a ‘choose your own adventure’, as we help Karate Man take care of some outdoor yard work, a job interview and more. Along the way, we battle goons and main bosses to advance to the next ‘level’. One audience member has the controller during these battles or ‘menu’ screens where we make choices that dictate the direction of the story. When “Next Player” blares from the PA at random times, the controller is passed on to the next player.

Everyone in the audience had at least one turn with the controller and it gives you a massive sense of power! It also gave me a very nostalgic feel, it took me back to being a young kid and playing video games with a group of friends, with everyone yelling directions and advice to the player. It really got the crowd worked up between the hollering and the laughter at Karate Man’s reactions to the prompts.

Our cast consists of creators Bruno Dubosarsky in the title role of Karate Man and Daniel Scarratt as his arch enemy, Ross Roundkick. Steph Ryan takes on the role of Karate Man’s wife Kara, while Tim Dunk and Maddie Atkins round out the cast as goons, a fashion icon, queen wasp, and more! 

I must commend Dubosarsky on his commitment and stamina in the role of Karate Man. He didn’t stop moving for the entire 50 minute show and didn’t falter once. He had great timing reacting to the prompts from the controller, with hilarious results! The rest of the crew were phenomenal too, with impeccable acting skills and comedic timing. They run a tight ship and put on one heck of a show.

The super clever use of creative and often hilarious practical props and costumes only help to elevate the story. Some props are key to the storyline and require the controller to use them and go further in the story, much like getting key items in an actual video game. It was insanely funny seeing witnessing the confusion in the room as the audience tried to figure out what actions we needed to make!

Karate Man – A Live-Action Video Game is an absolute blast. The action onstage is controlled chaos and the audience participation is thick and fast! The energy in the room is a buzz and the actors just feed off of it. It is side splitting hilarious and such a cool and unique concept that can be adapted in so many ways. I can’t wait to see what this crew thinks of next and I’ll be there supporting them for sure!

Karate Man – A Live-Action Video Game currently playing at Adelaide Fringe on until March 17 at The Secret Basement @ WEA. They’ll also be taking the show to the 2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival April 15 – 21 and Sydney Comedy Festival in May.
For more information and ticketing, visit:
https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/karate-man-a-live-action-video-game-af2024
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2024/shows/karate-man-a-live-action-video-game
https://instagram.com/BEAKComedy

Photography by Alex Gabbott.

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