23 – 29 August
2145-2300, Assembly Hall
You enter a darkened room. It is warm, and steep banks of seats face a white sheet on a stage. Suddenly, three odd-looking characters (and a mysterious lady) appear. They clutch strange and mystical devices from which they produce sounds unlike anything you have ever heard.
What do you do next…?
Probably laugh. A lot.
Tripod vs The Dragon is a 75-minute musical from the acclaimed Australian comedy trio. Based on the premise of role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, it follows the misadventures of Scod, Yon and Gatesy as they attempt to complete a cartographical quest, and level up in life and love in the process.
If you’ve ever tossed a 20-sided dice or salivated over the reams of stats in the infamously nerdish role-playing game, you’ll love Tripod’s wittily ironic take on it.
Even if you don’t know your orcs from your kobolds, there’s plenty to like here: the boys are excellent singers and musicians, and their lyrics are clever and accessible. Their asides and apparent ad-libs are often hilarious, poking merciless fun at each other as they launch into another clever parody of all things fantastical.
Elana Stone adds a fourth pair of legs to the Tripod, playing the human / dragon love interest to Gatesy’s bumbling warrior-cum-busking-bard. She is a revelation; her folk-tinged vocals astonishingly good and providing some real moments of emotion amongst the mugging and jesting of the boys.
Like a Punch & Judy version of Lord of the Rings, staging is equally inspired. Shadow puppets and the cast’s silhouettes are cleverly and amusingly used to depict epic journeys, deep dungeons and scheming villains’ lairs, with the sheet doubling as a boat’s sails during one memorable scene.
And all the time, Tripod poke fun at themselves, each other and the fantasy genre – wrapping the whole thing up in some accomplished musicianship and punchy comic timing which proves their charisma is as high as their dexterity.
If you’re not familiar with the sourcebooks of the source material, Tripod vs The Dragon would probably warrant three stars. If, however, you’ve ever spent long evenings sat around a pizza box-laden table pretending to be a mighty warlock, then it most definitely deserves a +1.
Ticket information is available on the Assembly website.
Review by Keith D