2003 – Game Over – ABOUT

Game Over

Commissioned by W11 Opera in 2003

Synopsis: Six children share a common passion. They are drawn to computer games to escape their real lives. In the virtual world they can be in charge of their own destiny. What could possibly go wrong when they log on? Their parents blissfully unaware of the obstacles they face. Cyberspace becomes frighteningly real as they are sucked into the game. In the struggle to reach the last level can they rely on each other?

Composer Guy Dagul
Librettist Jane Aspeling
Music Director Philip Colman
Soloists Siddy Rom, Elfin Princess, Squire Squirrel, Billy, Joey, Frankie, Lou, Dave, Alex, Billy’s Mum, Billy’s Dad, Fabricators (5)
Groups Mums, Dads, Fabricators Assistants, Body Doubles, Pixies, Elves, Builders, Termites, Shoot-’Em-Ups, Targets, Strategy Staff, Military Medics, Soldiers, Adults  
Orchestra 2 Keyboards, Bass Guitar  

Notes on Production: The contemporary subject matter of GAME OVER has strong appeal to a young cast. It has a witty, often poignant libretto with a powerful finale.

Musical style is lyrical and accessible, interposed with some complex rhythms and three-part harmonies.

Most group parts are easily learned by children aged 9 and upwards. Doubling of groups is entirely practical (and was used in the original production).

In the original W11 Opera production, all principal roles were taken by children and young people aged 9-18, including some broken male voices. However GAME OVER would be perfectly suitable for a mixed-age cast which included some adults.

Running time 65 minutes.

Music and Videos

Please visit the Video and Audio pages for clips from the production.

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Boot up

Our mentor: Siddy Rom, all-seeing, all-knowing. How wise Siddy seems, pointing out how the computer brings peace to the home (In the house-hold peace doth reign/Hallowed be the game…).

Now we meet the children, just out from school and already loading up their favourite games. The children complain (In a Minute) of their dull Real Lives: Get up, go to school,/Do some prep then bed… But their parents are nagging — do your homework, then go out to play — just as they did when THEY were children: Swapping comics, knock and run/Handstands in the evening sun…

But how can the children live that carefree life when their parents won’t let them outdoors alone? In Can’t Play in the Woods, both sides reflect on the dangers of the world beyond the front door as shown by the media — Just watch the news, just watch the news. The parents have lost the argument through their own paranoia.


We now meet Lou, Alex, Billy, Dave, Frankie and Joey, linked by online gaming and mobile phones (Text me). Each sings of his or her special reasons for loving the fantasy world of computers games: to escape from feeling too alone, too small, too plain, too crowded, too stupid, too dowdy.

Enter Game

Siddy Rom is at hand with his team of Fabricators (don’t they look a bit familiar?). Once on Siddy’s Ego Altar the children can be made into whatever they want to be — cooler, taller, cleverer, stronger.

Level 1

Siddy Rom takes the children on a journey into the pixellated world of the Elfin Princess. Brushing off interruptions form their parents, the children throw themselves into combat with the Elfin Princess’s arch enemy, Squire Squirrel. The children win the game… but almost at the cost of the life of one of their friends. Is Siddy Rom’s world really Only a game?

Level 2

Moving up to the next level of the game, the children successfully help an army of gormless termites to build a bridge over a river full of piranha fish. But at the last moment, little Alex, in a show of bravado, leaps into the river to prove the fish are harmless — and he is lost. Can the children buy back his life with one of the potions they won in Level One? I’m sorry, says Siddy Rom, but on Level 2 that only works if you’ve got six with you… and the children have already traded a potion to save Dave.

Pause Game

Back in Real Life, the children’s parents, putting things off just like their children (I’ll call in a minute, in a minute… let me finish my drink) are at last waking up to the fact that their children have physically disappeared. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a go on the computer too? Billy’s parents succeed in entering the game…

Level 3

…and find themselves in Level 3: it’s a shoot ’em up game. Billy is outraged by her parents’ invasion — This is so embarrassing! She flounces out of the game, and Lou, too, complains that if parents start turning up, things won’t be the same! But for standing up to Siddy Rom, the punishment is dire… he is banished to The Pit.

Level 4 — Game Over

The next level is a war strategy game. The children sing delightedly of the joys of marshalling killing forces: Cool and detached/Like a game of chess/Send the army into battle/Don’t deal with the mess. But when real corpses and wounded soldiers begin to appear, Dave and Frankie are at last sickened and exit the game, leaving Joey to fight alone.

While the voices of parents are heard begging their children to leave their computers and come back to Real Life, Siddy Rom gloats: It’s game over, game over, game over.