Whilst I did not learn any of the things referenced in its title, How to Win Loot and Influence Dragons was an entertaining showcase of storytelling and imagination-at-play in a scaled-down, stage version of the popular role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons (DnD).
Growing out of their regular podcast of the same title, Jackson Used, Grace Chapple and Ben McAllister went on a suspense-filled adventure, taking on characters from another world of goblins, halflings and wizards. Chaired by the passionate Dungeon Master Thomas Owen, the team faced a Michael Cain impersonating skeleton, a resurrected Dragon, and an army of the undead: all whilst valiantly supporting each other along the way.
With the stage set much like one would expect their podcast recording sessions to look like, these guys gave the audience behind-the-scenes insight into their creative process. The style of presentation was heavily reliant on your imagination, with very little physical performance overlaying the dialogue. Its understated theatricality perfectly complemented the casual, escapist nature of playing DnD.
Simple production touches, although amateur in quality, worked to ground all of this fantastical storyline within the setting of the theatre. Added costume elements, a few props and live sounds effects prompted those of us less imaginative, and was highly effective.
Amongst all of this seriously life-threatening adventure was a lot of fun and laughter. Some DnD “insider” jokes went straight over my head, but they were few and far between the rest of the lighter moments. From Owen’s breaking of many an accent, to Chapple’s consistently poor dice throwing and McAllister’s continual prompting of the (maybe sleepy) sound guy, there was plenty of space for easy laughs from the attentive audience.
An honourable mention goes to Owen’s storytelling skills. Even if he struggled to hold character at times, and possibly threw one too many challenges at the courageous team, he was a fair and just Master to allow the team to exit the crumbling cave alive.
Having come at this show really knowing nothing about DnD, I was thoroughly impressed at the way the team opened up their game to be accessible, friendly and full of fun. It felt honest, unpretentious, humbling and inviting for any audience member, regardless of their familiarity with the game.
Tickets are available for tonight and tomorrow, here.
Words by Molly Werner