Review by Emily Smith
In the back of the Golden West Brewing, in front of the fermentation tanks, is a table set up with rope, vines, swords, candles, and four microphones. This is all the set dressing for the DND Live: Peter Pan, the rest is provided by our imagination.
Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop roleplaying game, which essentially means it involves storytelling and a bit of acting, and a system of rules that dictate how players interact with the world and each other. The general format involves a group of adventurers coming together to go on quests, whether that’s fighting a dragon or pillaging the local tavern. The Game Master does the storytelling, setting the scene, introducing (and voicing) monsters for the players to fight – or not fight, depending on how much they want to derail the Game Master’s plans. Thanks to this loose structure almost any setting or characters are up for grabs, including the much-loved children’s classic, Peter Pan.
The Game Master for DND Live: Peter Pan is Hunter Perry, dressed dashingly in a full Captain Hook costume, long black curls and all. Hunter sets the scene by explaining what happened to our three adventurers the night before, as this is the second night of a four-night campaign, each show picks up from where the previous left off. The characters going adventuring are not, however, the Darling children we know and love, but three other, similarly precocious Edwardian troublemakers. Kael, Robbie, and Dana play Edward, Wyatt, and Teddy Thimble. When we joined them, they had just met (and tousled with) the Lost Boys of Neverland, and we joined them in their first impressions of the fantasy land and then their attempt to rescue the captured princess, Tigerlily. If you’re a newbie to Dungeons and Dragons this could be a good introduction to the game without the pressure of role-playing straight off the bat, but if you’re wanting some more audience interaction or expecting a more traditional theatre show it may not be the thing for you.
Aside from a loose plan that only the Game Master knows the show is entirely improvised, resulting in bizarre scenarios like Teddy catching a fish in her mouth as she flies over a lake to the pirate’s cave, and Edward pausing a fight with said pirates to offer them a business proposal. One enduring element of DND that I was glad to see in the show was the humour. An abundance of bad puns and corny dad jokes, all the funnier for the knowledge that they are legitimately unscripted, had both the audience and the performers chuckling.
The back section of Golden West Brewing was transformed into Neverland, mostly by the magic of storytelling and imagination, but also by the players’ costumes, which were clearly carefully planned to match the characters. Along with Hunter’s dashing Captain Hook costume each player committed to a look to help with our immersion into the game. My favourite was Kael’s shirt and black waistcoat, conveying Edward’s desire to emulate his father, a trait that led to many hilarious choices and proclamations from him. While the costumes were on point I would have liked that flair for the dramatics to have continued into the acting. To me, ridiculous accents and over-the-top impressions are a staple of DND, and other than the occasional “yo ho” the inhabitants of Neverland remained flatly Australian. What was entertaining was the players’ commitment to their characters, in particular Robbie’s embodiment of a slightly mental ten-year-old and his enthusiasm for chaos.
It was unfortunate that the show didn’t get a more secluded spot, as the noise from the rest of the pub drowned out a lot of the dialogue so it was occasionally hard to follow along. However, one advantage of the show being held at Golden West was the chance to try their calamari, delivered to our table as we watched, which I highly recommend for its perfect crispiness.