Dungeons and Dragons (not) The Musical (Praxis Theatre) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Do you have a tendency towards nerdiness? Check out Dungeons and Dragons (not) The Musical, which is playing in the basement of Snakes and Lattes. It`s a six hour show, but you aren`t expected to stay the entire time – you can come and go as you please, although they won’t let more than 20 people in at once. The performers and the show will be different every time – it is the nature of the game.

For those of you who do not know what Dungeons and Dragons is (henceforth referred to as D&D, a common short form), it is a table-top role playing game. A Dungeon Master (or DM – in this show’s case Ryan Stoughton) controls the action of each and every “bad guy” and the general.

There are four to six players who each have their own individual characters, each with different characteristics (like race, class, and randomly determined personal abilities), who form a band to battle whatever foe is attacking. The outcome of actions is determined by dice rolls.

For those of you who are familiar with D&D (like me), they are playing with 3.5 roles and sticking with core races and classes, and they’re beginning at low levels.

I believe that because they’re presenting D&D to an audience that may not be familiar with the game, an introduction was in order. There wasn`t one. Even more important, I would have liked an introduction to the individual characters – I had to discern their races and classes from my previous D&D knowledge based on what they were doing.

There are also two kinds of players in D&D: those who focus more on the technical side, and those who focus more on role playing, acting out their character’s full-fledged personalities. Oddly, the game was more the former – a strange choice for a theatre festival.

The venue is appropriate, as a dark basement is typically where most D&D games are played, and Snakes and Lattes is an obvious venue in which to hold a game of any sort. However, because they’re packing almost 30 people into a tiny space, and because they’ve added lighting and various cameras to project the show with, it is monstrously hot. Bring a drink.

The limitations of the space make setting up a challenge on its own, but the game itself is pushed up against one wall. This made it hard to see, and though a projector tried to help display the action it was hard to hear what was going on most of the time.

Overall, it is interesting for those familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, for certain. However, for anyone else, because there is no explanation and terrible heat to deal with, it’s probably a good idea to skip this game.

– Dungeons and Dragons (not) The Musical is playing at Snakes and Lattes (600 Bloor Street West) until July 16, 2011.
– Show dates are July 14 at 7pm and July 16 at 5pm.
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at   416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows