If you can imagine a Shakespearean
The players take on the roles of
Each player has two main things to keep track of: his actor and his character. There are several different archetypes of actors available, from the Ham to the Ingenue. And, of course, each actor is playing one of the characters in the Shakespeare play.
As part of setup, each player chooses an actor archetype, then there’s a
Actual gameplay is split into five acts, each of which is introduced by the GM. This is why the game works for those unfamiliar with Shakespeare: the GM tells you what’s supposed to happen before you start the act. The plot changes drastically anyway, so you don’t need to even have seen or read the original play to play the game.
Oddly, given the subject matter, The Play’s The Thing quickly turns into a
Moreover, there’s a
I had a blast with The Play’s The Thing. The players quickly got over their Shakespeare jitters (most of us barely remembered the vaguest outline of the plot) and just dove into our story: Macbeth. We soon had Jewish Witches, the world’s shortest soliloquy (“Och!”), and a plot so focused on Macduff that we renamed the play after him.
The system’s still a little rough around the edges. Players get Story Points to influence the story, but it wasn’t clear when we could or couldn’t use them. However, the problems were minor, and never kept us from enjoying ourselves. It helped that we had a fantastic GM, Tom Cadorette, who knew exactly when to go deeper and when to move on.