We watched all of this Resident Evil stage play so you wouldn't have to
I know this will go poorly, but I'm willing to do it for you.
There's a Resident Evil play for the stage called "Biohazard: The Stage" that was produced in Japan by Capcom in 2015 and is finally up on YouTube. Someone went through and added C+ level English subtitles, and I am going to watch it. I've played almost every single Resident Evil game, and I've read most of the books and such things, so the completionist in me won't let me skip this. But the human in me? He knows that this ends poorly. Because two hours of combining Resident Evil lore into a single production, for live performance, cannot go well.
Characters from the franchise, I've read in the abstract, are pulled together to a university in Australia where a new outbreak of the T-Virus occurs. There's also apparently a lot of digital screens that allow them to do some very silly things. My expectations are both as high and as low as they can possibly be.
So here goes nothing.
0:59 We open on a man saying he isn't really dead and then a bunch of people open umbrellas. What's on those umbrellas? The evil Umbrella Corp logo. It's a metaphor, you see. There's a neat rain effect achieved using the projection screen behind the stage, and we keep cutting away to big CGI sequences that are neither better nor worse than the in-game cut-scenes from, say, RE:4? So hat tip for striking the appropriate ground right out of the gate. Rarely get to compliment cheap CGI in the review of a stage play, but here we are.
1:48 The setting is introduced as Australia which is... fine, I guess? At a place called "Philosophy University". Oh shit. Two hours and twelve minutes of this left. It's like I just remembered this Resident Evil play would be kinda Resident Evil-y and now I feel terrible on the inside. Note: ask editors if they will double my rate.
2:14 Using the scrim, digital projections make it look like a bunch of science students are actually writing math on a chalkboard. This is hands down the most expensive chalkboard visual trick in theater history. We meet a girl named Olivia Price who is dating "the most popular guy in the science department" (not a thing) named Lucas Butler. There's also students named Mary and Laird (Laird? really?) and they say things in the middle of catty conversations that are disarmingly seriously like "I will protect you" even though we've all been laughing about Australia. Also, turns out their temporary teacher is Rebecca Chambers from the original S.T.A.R.S team. Wow. Lots of information to unpack here. I'm sure the play will slow down to let us dig into why a college professor--
3:40 They're working on a problem that can't be solved. "It means what's impossible to the human race could be possible to something more than that who might one day rule the world one day." Really makes you think. Also, this is the most dramatic math class of all time. Australia is crazy, y'all.
4:56 The saddest girl in the classroom (Mary) just ran to roof and found a cool boy in a black leather jacket also being sad and looking at some dog-tags around his own neck. Now they are debating which of them is the saddest in a world that is lonely and sad while the sun sets behind them. Then they debate whether this is the beginning of the end or the end of a beginning. This should really be a musical; you could get away with repeating lines like this. At least the multi-layered set and various projection screens make this genuinely impressive to watch, even as a bullshit YouTube video.
8:55 We meet the Rector (which I think is either the Dean or the Reptar) of the University, who is also Mary's dad. He casually brings up all the missing students that started disappearing in the last month and his daughter is like "Shit happens" and he's like "Cool." There's also a clearly evil dude who keeps complimenting Mary's brain. I hope he doesn't eat it later. Barrington Mayers is introduced as the secret police officer investigating the university (he's on loan from Philosophy City) and he has lots of security footage of Mary that her dad in no way finds creepy. She hides at the top of a staircase while her dad pays off the cop for some reason? Is that how secret investigations work? Anyway, the subtitles have completely fallen apart here for a bit, so your guess is as good as mine. Maybe this is better when I don’t know what’s happening than trying to follow the story they wrote? The Brain Talking Guy is named Matthew and might secretly be the Rector's son. There are so many secrets here, you guys.
14:29 Rebecca is telling Mary that only a few people realize their "mission" in life and that you must chase that mission. Mary agrees and suddenly isn't such a downer. This is the point where this really should have become a musical. When you find your mission, you must accept the position, if only everyone could listen --- oh shit there's a zombie outbreak. Wow. Did not see that coming. Just like, zombies everywhere and people screaming. I can't see most of it because its happening in the audience and the cameras don't show that.
16:42 We're in a CGI humvee now. I don't understand what I'm seeing. There's a lot of heroic music and the date and time were just flashed on screen as if that means anything and then a dude got headshot'd super hard and maybe a dog was killed. This is easily my favorite play of all time. Suck on that, Mamet.
18:05 Less than a minute later, we are in a flashback sequence to 1998 in the mountains outside Raccoon City. Holy crap. We are back in the mansion and Rebecca is in full S.T.A.R.S. gear clearing this place out. There's a voice over explaining Umbrella Corp and their slogan: "bless human health" with no capital letters. Now we're shooting a bunch of zombies and everything on stage has the sound effects of the original game. The disconnect here is deeply bizarre, like watching a high school talent show with a multi-million dollar budget. Chris Redfield is here, and he's asking Rebecca if she knows how to use a gun. She's already shot like six monsters with perfect headshots. Sexism, Chris. C'mon. I know 1998 was a different time but damn, son.
22:40 We're into a recap of the legal filings against the Umbrella Corporation over the next ten years while the Umbrella Dance Squad is back. Chris is running around posing with a gun but there's -- there's so much pageantry here. If you told me this was a Miss America competition, like, I wouldn't believe you because there are lots of zombies and guns, but you get it. I'm saying Chris Redfield is very pretty. Also, I do actually want to buy an Umbrella umbrella at this point, and I haven't seen rain in a year. Surely, there's an Etsy store that can help me with this.
23:54 Uh, I don't think this exists elsewhere in RE lore, but in 2005 there are multiple outbreaks in Minnesota cities? I do want to play a Minneapolis-based game with a soundtrack by The Hold Steady and various cheap beers take the place of healing herbs. And then I could combine different beers to make... Stop, Brock. You're just trying to avoid writing about this show, and you've got miles to go before you sleep. Anyhow, Rebecca shows up here as a member of BSAA and saves a streetwise Minnesota cop named Tyler, who is the sad leather boy we met back on the roof in Australia in the future. He's in the BSAA North American division for the USSAA and he's joined by sniper Piers Nivans and...
26:12 Suddenly the entire cast is on stage while the characters are introduced and given names. Now there's a title sequence. Take note of the time. We got thirty minutes in before introducing the character names or the show. Phantom of the Opera gets to that at minute two -- not to hold this show to impossible standards. Oh wow, now we're using the actual door opening animations from the game. Wow. Of all the things to bring with you.
27:30 All of our main military characters, including the crooked cop, are meeting in a bunker to talk about what happened here. The T Virus is definitely out, folks. Also, Rebecca introduces herself as "Rebecca, a temporary teacher of science." C'mon Becs, you're selling yourself short here. Detective Mayer is having like a super easy time dealing with the fact zombies are real. Oh, there's a new girl named Sophie.
32:09 They just shot some zombies and Rebecca is losing her goddamned mind because they use to be her students. This is... ridiculous. You've killed so many zombies. Does she not know who she is? Didn't she just see the same flashback as the rest of us? Tyler is holding a gun to his own head in the dark. Now he's walking away. I really want to see more of how this guy survived in Minnesota.
37:00 This play has stopped dead in its tracks. Thank Christ. I'm not sure I could have covered more ten second long scenes -- that was brutal. Now we're just in a long conversation with the Rector, a maybe evil professor, and the Rector's son -- who is adopted!! but doesn't want to learn??!! The Rector just tried to grab the professor by his lab coat and missed, which seems like a hard thing to mess-up from a foot away?
39:00 The teens are texting now and all of their messages are displayed on various parts of the building but also read out loud to the audience. Also, there are super loud monster noises exploding from the stage every thirty seconds or so. Looks like they've really learned from that professor scene that you can cover up inane dialogue with inhuman screams. Truly, this is now Resident Evil canon.
42:27 There's a helpful mini-map of the university on screen to show where each of the protagonists groups are located. This is wild world-building. There's also an extended sequence where the gun people are slowly opening restroom doors. Yeah, that's everyone's favorite part of games -- finding ammo in the toilet. Oh wow, there's a security guard comic relief character who is reciting the Lord's prayer while also tweaking his nipples and Chris threatens to shoot him if he doesn't stop rubbing his nipples. Hilarious. Nipples and Catholicism are funny no matter who you are or what disastrous adaptation you're trapped in. The guard also has nyctophobia (a fear of the dark) and I'm worried that's going to be a problem for the Night Guard moving forward. We'll see, though. Maybe I'm wrong.
48:44 More nipple rubbing. This time in a counter-clockwise motion. Thought this might be important.
50:12 The zombies do an excellent job of moving just like original RE monsters, just as the translator of this video is on par with the person who brought us "Jill Sandwich". Tyler is reading a monologue off a letter he's holding? Most of this play is monologues now directly to the audience. If I cared more, I'd edit a video of the entire thing with the music from A Chorus Line underneath these diatribes. The New Girl and the Crooked Cop are now fighting because he loves money so much and she doesn't want to die from zombies, and somehow these two philosophies are at odds. Suddenly Tyler is here with Sniper Friend and there's a four-way double-cross. Some kids are here monologuing about Umbrella from things they read on their phones or something? I'd honestly be less confused about what's happening if a taco truck drove out on stage and fed the audience right now.
56:37 We're in the tomb of the Irish Giant, a fossil of a giant discovered hundreds of years ago. This is not an episode of "Legends of the Hidden Temple" so I'm sure this will turn out to be Tyrant or something. Rebecca is crying about students again and it is visibly annoying to those cast members attempting to remain alive.
58:55 The Irish Giant was a false front for a hidden safe-room. I was wrong. I clearly wasn't the Resident Evil genius I pretended to be here. I apologize.
1:00:30 After an hour of zombie attacks and scream-crying over fallen friends, someone finally got bit by a dude that wasn't all the way dead. I feel vindicated.
1:02:22 The police officer from Minnesota? His dad is the evil professor at the Australian university. Look out, you just got Star Wars'd. There's also a set of doors on stage and now zombies repeatedly jump out through these doors when there's a lull in conversation, no matter where the scene is set. I wish this was something they just did at unscripted times to keep the cast on their toes. "I was just re-explaining Umbrella again when-- LOOK OUT! -- as I was saying..."
1:05:08 Crooked cop is giggling like Gary Busey and trying to cover up the monster outbreak by telling everyone to just go home. A trap is sprung and now the ceiling is lowering onto some dudes that are gonna get smashed Mario style -- and they escaped. Well. That was kinda fun for a second. Now we're back to the security guard explaining how he had a key this whole time and maybe he shouldn't say that out loud because it makes him look bad. I know this is some kind of slap-sticky hilarity but I can't even tell what he's referring back to? At least no one in the audience is laughing either. This would be like making a Castlevania play and throwing Peter Griffin from Family Guy in as a main character. Or is that something I want to see now? Stop it, brain.
1:10:10 First speech of "Your enemy and my enemy are probably the same enemy so let us stop fighting." This is the half-way point of the show and I'm not sure I can do this for another hour. #Pray4BrockWhileRubbingNipples
1:12:00 Tyler is confronting his scientist father, who claims his son is dead. Tyler said he became a cop because his scientist father disappeared and he wanted to find him. Who made who? Perhaps we are all the monster. Perhaps-- oh, Dad just pulled a gun to keep Tyler from interfering with his research. His research In Science. Everyone in this play talks about science the way I talked about science when I was 8 and thought I was Egon from the Ghostbusters. Like, science just means wearing a white jacket and shouting a lot. I get it.
1:14:12 The protagonists have found an "authentication system" which is just a small gray box (clearly spray-painted) with a red button painted on it. They are passing it around and trying to not break the cheapest prop in the show.
1:16:00 There's a lab full of monsters and MUSICAL SEQUENCE FINALLY. There's J-pop and strobes and oh wow Katy Perry eat your heart out. This is "Rent" but for reanimated flesh shooting. 5,250,600 bullets... how do you measure a year in this plot? RAP BREAK. GUYS. COME QUICK. THIS IS THE ONLY PART OF THE PLAY YOU NEED TO SEE. OH WOW I AM BACK IN THIS. THIS DUDE'S GIRLFRIEND GOT SHOT BUT SHE WAS CLEARLY A ZOMBIE IS SHE GOING TO BITE HIM WHY IS ANYONE DOING ANYTHING i am dead inside again. Remember the lights? Remember the song? It's gone now and we're just talking again. God I hate talking. Someone shot himself and I'm bored by that. You showed us you could dance. Why aren't we dancing? No one needs another hour of riddle-speak about mortality and what it means to be human.
1:26:35 Evil professor has an evil briefcase that contains the evil virus. He wants to bring his son back to life but also make some money (which is always evil) so he maybe infects some students to take revenge on the world that took his son (which isn't the best way to get paid?) so he's kinda putting together that this was A Shit Plan.
1:28:50 I was going to compliment the zombies here but one of them got shot in mid-air while literally clicking his heels together and I cannot stop laughing. This is so serious and so dumb and they just freaking nailed Resident Evil. Whoever adapted this straight up ADAPTED this with no regard for anyone's enjoyment, and in that way, I will always love it.
1:31:30 The subtitler, to whom I am forever indebted for this video, has all but given up on pronouns and verb tense. Maybe after subtitling the same maniacal speech for the seventh time you realize that we get it. We all get it. Wow science can do good but also wow maybe science can do bad? Such science, very thoughts.
1:36:00 The security guard is named Posh. Huh. Anyway, he's turning into a zombie in a surprisingly serious moment and they superimpose a zombie face over his face until the team shoots him in the head. Hold on. This is genuinely disturbing. And now we're singing "Hush Little Baby" in English over his body. Is this play learning how to be scary as it goes? Has "Biohazard: The Stage" become self-aware? Nope. The crooked cop just showed up to talk about how much he loves money again. In related news, my spellcheck keeps trying to change "Biohazard" to "Haphazard" and that's probably my review.
1:40:20 Posh Spice came back to life to bite the evil cop, who we know was evil because he had dyed blonde hair and loved capitalism, and then an animated version of the cop fell out of an animated window. Meanwhile, Matthew the adopted son hung himself in the same room where the Rector is now tied to a chair. Did Matthew tie his dad up before hanging himself? Behind the scene, there's an animated flashback to the Rector being six years old and having his parents executed in front of him by an Italian soldier in a bombed-out city? He just wants to know why everyone dies. They don't, dude. That's the problem here. If everyone just died once, things would be pretty okay at Philosophy University right now. The evil scientist is making fun of the Rector for talking too much and like, yeah, we know. Now he's talking about all the monsters he created and just-- take your own advice, man. Shoot a gun or something.
1:45:33 Father and son are aiming guns at each other. Evil scientist dad just looked to the audience and an extremely dramatic music cue -- oh my god TYRANT. I was goddamned right before. Remember when I apologized to all of you? That was bullshit. I'm as unto a God. Tyrant is running through the crowd murdering people and holy wow he has these movements down, including the random bursts of speed. There is a boss fight on stage right now and this is the goofiest thing I've ever seen. Evil Science Dad is trying to collect data so he's encouraging Tyler to fight harder, for science data science, you see.
1:48:00 Tyrant dies in slow motion. This is great and I hate it. He also looks a lot like Mr. Freeze and I want this same company to do an Arkham Asylum play next. Did they already do a Silent Hill production? They have to. THEY HAVE TO. Oh, Pyramidhead would have such excellent monologues about pyramids and garbage disposals.
1:49:37 Evil Scientist Dad injected himself with the new virus. Tyler shoots him like 1000 times. Even after he's dead. I've never seen a play with so many people crying at random intervals, or one with so much gunfire. It's an emotional strobe effect and I have emotional epilepsy. Now we're reading a letter from Scientist Dad where he admits he was wrong, even though he died screaming about how he was right. I can feel the lack of oxygen in my brain.
There's a twist here and now Sad Girl is laughing a bunch which is the universal anime sign for Things Not Going Well. She's got some T-Virus in her and with a little luck we're near the end now. Remember that dance number before? That was a bright light in a dark world. Oh, the evil professor was her dad too? So now she's going to kill her brother, Tyler? Holy shit. They just gave up entirely. Mary is a God(?) and the mastermind behind this entire thing but also just taking turns aiming guns at lots of people who have much bigger guns. YOU CAN END THIS NOW, CAST. SOMEONE TAKE THE SHOT.
1:57:52 Still talking. I'm fantasizing about a production of Les Misérables where one character has a rocket launcher and how quickly that could have ended things there. Such opportunities here, people. Mary just ran away from the guns somehow? I wish I was that good at running. She ran so fast the moon moved? Now Tyler is trying to talk her down by explaining irony to her? That won't work, bro. No one here understands anything except screaming and shooting and biochemical weapons.
2:00:19 Two hours in and Mary's ghost is talking to her ex-boyfriend's ghost on the moon. This is the worst It Gets Better video of all time.
2:01:33 Mary just exploded into a three story tentacle-monster that the entire cast is firing guns at while apologizing to her for being stubborn. They fired a rocket at her and she exploded into fire but also into a ghost of her former self on the moon. I feel nothing.
2:03:27 Now a helicopter is here to save the team, and everyone is shaking hands. There is some discussion over who should drive when they carpool back to the city. The helicopter is still there but they would prefer cars, I guess?
2:05:24 The school president is running away with the T-Virus when he finds an Umbrella umbrella attached to the severed arm of Mary that must have exploded off of her when she turned into tentacles? He rubs her fingers against his face and apologizes for making her like this. He's just hugging a decapitated arm in the moonlight. "Mary, let's create a new world, together." Oh my god. This is everything I wanted for the entire play. This is the weirdest goddamned thing I have ever seen. There's a love theme playing underneath. He holds his hand, and hers, towards the heavens.
2:08:35 My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this—and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing.
Final Grade: B+