[Review] Character Building Experience at the Museum of Comedy

“The dice is cruel and random, like Game of Thrones or Tinder”

You’ve heard of improvisational comedy. You’ve heard of games. You’ve probably heard of Dungeons & Dragons. But have you heard of comedians playing a game of D&D? Well, that’s exactly what Character Building Experience is all about. Professional Games Master Sasha Ellen leads three comedians on a magical quest, guiding them with her notes and some D20 dice (twenty-sided dice, for those unfamiliar). Each comedian becomes a character with their own personality and quirks, joining together to become the heroes of their story.

Ellen is joined by three comedians, with this show’s guest stars being Adele Cliff, Sid Singh, and Mark Cram. Each guest had chosen a character sheet before the show which gave them all of the basic information they would need for their upcoming quest, along with some fun powers like “Teleke-sneeze-is”. Singh played a scared wizard named Sasha Ellen, Cram was a thief with a “wandering hand” known as Spearmint Poppet, and Cliff became Challenging Colin, a knight with a code of honor that no one else really understands.

Unfortunately, while the idea of comedians playing a game similar to D&D is fun, it does not come without its own issues. Within the first few minutes, it became obvious that none of the comedians had really looked at their character sheets before the game, leading to some confusion over who had what abilities and what their character traits were. The character traits ended up mattering less, as it was rare for any of the three players to truly get into character, as is typically seen in games of D&D with players changing their voices and becoming completely different creatures. Instead, Singh, Cram, and Cliff seemed to be playing as themselves, not veering far off from their own sense of humour.  Instead of coming together as a team, each treated their turns as their own little bits of comedy, which is to be expected, but was a little disappointing.

Ultimately, Character Building Experience is a fun show that, with some more guidance, could become a really incredible way for theatregoers to learn more about the world of RPG while having a great night out. Some more sound effects and music could have gone a long way to enhancing the show and putting everyone in the RPG mood. Ellen certainly puts a lot of effort into her work, but it would be truly taken to the next level if players came in ready to become their characters and go on a journey along with the audience. 

Character Building Experience runs at the Museum of Comedy on 27 April, 25 May, 22 June, and 27 July. The runtime is 60 minutes and the age recommendation is 12+. Tickets can be purchased here.


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