D&D Live!, produced by Sex T-Rex, is playing as part of the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival. Before getting into this review, I should admit my own bias. I’m a big fan of Toronto sketch troupe Sex T-Rex. And I’m an even bigger fan of Dungeons and Dragons, with nearly a decade of Dungeon Master (DM) experience under my belt.
Sex T-Rex has a history of winning Fringe accolades with their scripted sketch shows, but they haven’t brought an improv piece to the festival before. D&D Live! has been running monthly at Bad Dog Theatre for some time, but D&D is a game known for carrying the risk of flying completely off the rails.
Flying off the rails is exactly what happened on opening night. Featured guest Mark Little worked tirelessly to keep his castmates on their toes, from murdering every character on stage multiple times, to plotting to kill the DM, to smashing the show against the fourth wall like a battering ram against a castle gate. With a sporty scarlet wig and a gleeful contempt for the rules, his character of a maniacal ROM curator (since, of course, the show is set in the mythical realm of T’Rannah) stopped at nothing to destroy any coherency the evening might have held.
It’s a true testament to the diligence of the troupe and the trust between the performers that none of this was a problem whatsoever. Seann Murray’s Dungeon Master kept up a constant stream of cryptic narration, and the crew of NPCs knew exactly when to punch up a dawdling scene with a fight or toss in just the right prop. The constantly shifting audio, though rather abrupt, helped the audience keep up with the ridiculous twists in the action.
Sean Tabares deserves special recognition for carrying what remained of any plot on his shoulders from start to finish. His goofy troll, butchered and regenerated in the first ten minutes, ended up as the beating heart of a show that didn’t even know it had one to begin with.
D&D fans would be remiss to skip this show. Though a far cry from the actual tabletop experience, Sex T-Rex knows exactly what needs to be done to capture the feeling of D&D–which at its heart, is really about improvising a story. Whether or not the rest of the run will be quite so turbulent, it’s clear that the troupe, and the show, are committed to that purest of alignments.
D&D Live! is Chaotic Good.
- D&D Live! plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Audience participation.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Thursday July 5th, 8:45 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 12:00 pm
- Monday July 9th, 10:15 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 13th, 4:00 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 5:45 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 7:30 pm
Photo of Kaitlin Morrow by Nicholas Melo