D&D Yoga (Downward d20) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo from D&D Yoga

D&D Yoga, playing at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, is a combination of two great things that, I for one, did not expect would pair together so well. But they do. As the title suggests, D&D Yoga is Dungeons and Dragons and yoga. When I saw the listing for the show I wondered how the mechanics of it would work but as I quickly saw, as I rolled my D20 for damage, lunged, sun saluted, and downward dogged, it all blends together rather well.

Christine Desrochers is our dungeon master (and yoga teacher) during our journey. The adventure begins before we even make it into the yoga studio at the upper most floor of the Dovercourt House. This venue is definitely not an accessible one and multiple flights of stairs lead us to the top. When we entered, we grabbed our character sheets. There are three characters to choose from – Rogue, Mage, and Warrior. Rogues are cunning thieves; Mages are wizened magic users; and Warriors, are, well, warriors. We are to select a D20 (a 20-sided die) and a pencil. Then we were instructed to take our place at the yoga mats.

It’s important to stress, especially at any show that requires physical activity like yoga, that it is crucial that each participant participates to the level that they are comfortable with. Bad knees? Desrochers offers the chance to either double up on yoga mats or choose a much thicker one. Bad back? Feel free to sit out on certain positions that may lead to excessive strain. Ultimately there are also seats provided at the back of the studio for those who would rather observe.

D&D Yoga is made to be accessible for all regardless of your yogic experience level. For me, I’ve taken quite a few yoga classes in the past and I love the experience but I do not have the best body for it and have issues when it comes to my centre of balance and gravity – therefore poses that require me being balanced on one foot don’t work very well for me. And of course, I chose Mage whose attack pose is the Tree of Life (with one foot balanced on the inner thigh, the calf, or against the heel of the other leg). My experience in yoga told me that the best position for me with my severe lack of balance would be the foot against the heel.

I mention this because as Desrochers gets into the journey, she focuses intensely on the progression of the journey and less on making sure her audience is managing with the positions. Occasionally, she’ll come by and make a few corrections and offer aid but for the most part the audience is on their own and it is up to the audience to find the altered positions that best suit them.

D&D is a roleplay game and the 20-sided die is rolled to determine the level of damage during combat or during other situations that impact the plot at hand. At integral parts, each of us is asked to roll our die (on the floor so more bending) and if we rolled higher than a certain number, our attacks would successfully land, under and we took damage. The character sheet is where we keep track of our health levels.

In the end, how well we managed to roll didn’t really matter in the outcome of the journey. The foes are defeated, the heroes succeeded, and this wayward troupe of wanderers are left to wander into the sun-drenched city with a renewed sense of calm and a body properly stretched.

D&D Yoga is fun and imaginative. It is challenging and a great work out. It is a great addition to your Fringe adventure this year.

Details

  • D&D Yoga plays at Dovercourt House. (805 Dovercourt St.)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warning: Audience Participation.
  • The Fringe Festival does not consider this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • Wednesday July 5th, 03:30 pm
  • Thursday July 6th, 04:30 pm
  • Friday July 7th, 11:30 am
  • Friday July 7th, 04:30 pm
  • Saturday July 8th, 01:30 pm
  • Sunday July 9th, 02:30 pm
  • Monday July 10th, 04:30 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 10:30 am
  • Wednesday July 12th, 04:30 pm
  • Sunday July 16th, 02:30 pm
  • Sunday July 16th, 04:30 pm

Photo of Mary Charteris, Anthony Walker, and Christine Desrochers by Jason Chapman