Image description: A sketch logo of the words “Improv D&D” on a sheet of blueprint paper
By Elaine Hanlon
The die has been cast and the characters are alive.
It is the opening night of Improv D&D, which is celebrating its fourth year running at Perth’s FRINGE WORLD Festival, and it’s a full house. Perth’s finest nerds, young and old, are out in full force and the atmosphere is magical. The show is a comedic improv based on the classic role playing game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), where we journey through the galaxy’s many realms where goblins, elves, dwarfs, orcs, halflings, witches, and more, come to life on stage.
At the start of the show, we have three players, who only know their class and race (a human royal knight, a goblin bard and a hermit druid). These three improvisers bring their characters to life in a fantasy world that is imaginatively fleshed out by the Dungeon Master (Scott McArdle). We join this cast as they ride on imaginary horseback to their friend’s stag party at the Hornets’ Nest Inn, getting to know the characters through their banter and shenanigans along the way. The in-house pianist and guitarist should not be forgotten, as they complimented the dramatics and improvised songs wonderfully.
On arrival at the inn we meet an additional three non-player characters (NPCs), who take on such roles as a group of raucous dwarves, a dithering uncle, and a gang leader who appreciates a good pole dance. The NPCs first come to life when we meet the King’s elfin advisor, Delfin, who literally has a stick up his bum. I expect nothing less from Bogan Shakespeare Productions.
The humour continues to increase rapidly as the players grow into their characters and improvise more of their personalities and background. Quick wit, innuendo, improv and the weaving of audience input into the narrative, all allow the audience to live the adventure through these players.
The Dungeon Master is the narrator of the adventure, sitting behind his D&D screen, rolling dice and whispering to the NPCs as he devises new twists, carrying the players and audience through the rules and the story.
There were two ‘quests’ this evening and they were both really intriguing. The first was to find some ale for the inn, which the dwarves had drunk dry. The second was to stop crazy Uncle Baron from burning down the inn. Through the quests and luck of the dice, mixed with player improv and character skills (or lack of skills), hilarity ensues. There is a lot of silliness, cleverness and easy laughter.
The show ends in an enigmatic climax where the groom, good King Ragnar, who dreamed of marriage and peace among warring dwarves, lies dead on the floor. This episode, the first of five in the same campaign, sets the scene for the adventure to be continued over the remaining nights. A new adventure every night; who will live? Who will die?
So if D&D is your thing, if you are curious about what D&D is, or want to experience Perth’s best nerdiness at its finest, then this show is definitely for you. All in all a fantastical show with a strong following, where the members probably know calculus and have many philosophical opinions on the meaning of life or how to solve the world’s problems.
The show has unfortunately sold out, but after the strong seasons that have come before it, I expect it to return next year. See more information here.
This show rolls 4.5 on a 5 sided dice.
Elaine thinks we should never stop taking the initiative, as we need more fantastical and scientific ideologies to solve Mother Earth’s quest.
Image courtesy of FRINGE WORLD Festival.
Woodside Petroleum is a principal sponsor of FRINGE WORLD Festival. Pelican has been a long-time supporter of the Festival, and will continue to show its support. However, the Magazine feels it is unethical for Woodside Petroleum to remain a principal sponsor of FRINGE WORLD, given the current climate emergency, and Woodside’s ongoing contribution to climate change.
Other Festivals have demonstrated that ethical sources of funding are possible – you can read more, and sign the petition, here: https://www.change.org/p/fringeworld-side-with-the-climate-and-drop-woodside-petroleum // #fossilfreefringe #fossilfreearts // Arts and Cultural Workers for Climate Action