Our Tribe of Dice and Men

Usually when you stand in line for something for more than an hour, nobody bothers to bring you entertainment or news or anything interesting to talk about. That’s why Nintendo invented the DS. So I was pleasantly surprised when a cute guy with glasses approached me to talk about this play he was putting on while I was standing in line to play Dragon Age 2 yesterday.

“I thought you’d be interested because of your t-shirt,” he said, grinning impishly. It was a good thing I wore my “My Sword Glows Blue in the Presence of Rules Lawyers” t-shirt from Jinx yesterday otherwise I might not have known that they were putting on the World Premiere. A one-night only sort of deal. And I do have this soft-spot for anything involving D&D.

I’d heard about the kerfuffle brought on by “Of Dice and Men” during a reading of it at PAX East this year. Geeks and theatre seem to go hand-in-hand but we’ve never had a chance to have our story told until one Cameron McNary stepped up and wrote, directed, and starred in “a play about friendship, what it means to be a grown-up, and why gaming matters.”

Attending the play turned out to be the best decision I’ve made during this convention.

It was offbeat, funny as hell, and best of all, poignant.

The story follows a DM (John Francis, played by McNary) and his quirky D&D troupe through both their adventures as their characters and their trials in this momentous part of their lives. Without giving too much away (because you must see it), it was heart-wrenching, painfully relevant, and delightfully whimsical.

Sadly, I had a difficult time seeing the makeshift stage (something to do with being 5’6 in a room of 6’2 people) so I had to pull the majority of my enjoyment out of the dialogue. And thankfully, that’s where the meat of the meaning was. McNary’s gift for language combined with his genuine love of D&D created an experience that no one in that theatre will be able to forget.

The cast – a mixture of hardcore D&D geeks and D&D neophytes – had a chemistry that you just can’t fake. Each interaction was genuine and sincere, which is a real feat considering that the play was pulled together in just six (!!) days.

John Alex (played by Daniel Wood) was the crowd favourite, what with his rather colour repertoire of expletives and his roguish personality. And, well, he played a Rogue too so that didn’t hurt. Another crowd favourite was Jenny Bennett’s character, Linda, whose impersonation of a crass male dwarf had us all in stitches. There’s just something about a woman talking about male genitalia that just gets you where it counts. Honourable mention goes to the adorable Emily Fairbrook for her portrayal of Tara. Tara’s D&D character (whose name was too long for me to remember) had an inexplicable need to tell the audience all about her back-story.

I think we’ve all known one of those.

This play is a must-see for any gamer, whether or not you’re a D&D geek. There was enough explanation about the mechanics and the background (without going overboard) for anyone to walk into “Of Dice and Men” and feel right at home.

However, in order for this play to really get off the ground, it needs money. Critical Threat Theatre is asking for $5 (or more) donations on their Indie GoGo website.

To read more about the cast, crew, and production, visit Critical Threat Theatre’s website.