You don’t have to be a “nerd” to enjoy good ol’ role-play
Showing at The Motley Bauhaus, a quaint little performance space that sat above a ground-level bar, the venue was bursting at the seams on a Saturday afternoon, with fans clad in medieval-inspired gear rushing to fill the front rows (with beer–or mead!–in hand, of course).
I have to say, the intimacy of its venue truly did enhance the show experience. Full disclosure: I went into the show with my knowledge about the phenomenon of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) being limited to their mainstream popularisation in ‘Stranger Things’ (nerds, please don’t come at me). So yes, I was a lost sheep among the herd of seasoned fantasy adventurers. Thankfully, I managed to strike up a conversation with a fan in the vicinity who helped enlighten me on the game’s context.
For my fellow TTRPG novices, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D for short) is, at its core, collaborative storytelling with a strong focus on improvisation. The cast of Myths & Legends’ 2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival offering featured the cast of comedians as role-playing warriors, mages, and elves, embarking on imagined quests and deciding the outcome of battles and other climatic events through rolls of a dice. Let us not forget their Dungeon Master–who, in the span of only 120 minutes, managed to weave a spectacular tale of intrigue and woe for his players. Yeah, it’s basically improv theatre with dice.
The cast shined through as much more than a group of collaborative performers. Their warmth and camaraderie say it all: they’re a bunch of friends with a fortnightly D&D podcast and a penchant for live comedy performances. Their banter and antics during the show were a hoot. In particular, I enjoyed Lauren Bok’s performance; after all, the activities of this community have been stereotyped as the most archetypal form of male geekiness. Lauren brought a refreshing female perspective to the game and ‘slayed’ with her charming wit and excellent comedic chops. The rest of the male-dominated cast’s use of props and abilities to seamlessly slide out of one character and into another enabled them to tell a story and elevated the performance to a whole new level of comedy. Greg Pickering, Daniel Last, Ben Clements, Emil Freund and Jack Kirby Crosby lived up to their legendary reputations as D&D comedic veterans.
The cast of ‘Dice Paper Role: Myths & Legends’ up to their comedic antics, featuring Greg Pickering, Daniel Last, Ben Clements, Emil Freund, Jack Kirby Crosby and Lauren Bok.
I’ll be honest – for completely new players (such as yours truly), you’re bound to get occasionally stumped when following the various storylines narrated by the cast. Although, I would say the cast’s choice to use only one twenty-sided die to roll instead of complicated character sheets did help. All in all, I would recommend those unfamiliar but who crave a taste of an RPG adventure to attend D&D comedy shows as a social experience. I found that attending a Dice Paper Role show proved to be an excellent opportunity to connect with Melbourne’s vibrant D&D community filled with passionate players of the craft. You don’t have to be a role-play “nerd” to attend a D&D show. So, weary travellers, come along, network and grab a beer at the tavern during intermission!