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BWW Review: D&D WITH DEEDEE: THE ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS TUTORIAL Proves Game Worthy at Atlanta Fringe Festival

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The audio play tells the story of DeeDee, an injured high-school athlete with an aggressively competitive nature.

BWW Review: D&D WITH DEEDEE:  THE ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS TUTORIAL Proves Game Worthy at Atlanta Fringe Festival
Artwork Courtesy of Atlanta Fringe Festival

June is bustin' out all over here in Atlanta! The Braves are back, sans the cardboard fans. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is in full bloom. And some of the most beloved theatre organizers are raising their curtains on a summer of robust programming, including the Atlanta Fringe Festival, which ran online through mid-June this year, bringing together artists from across the globe in a diverse catalogue of virtual performing arts productions. One of the most interesting components of the festival this year was the Fringe Audio podcasting network, providing a forum for audio storytelling, including a fun audio play from Barbed Tales Podcast Theatre, a collection of original plays that all celebrate modern culture. D&D WITH DEEDEE: THE ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS TUTORIAL, the Barbed Tales' audio play included in this year's Fringe Audio, is a funny character-driven piece that takes a clever behind-the-scenes look at the nature of beginning podcast production.

The audio play tells the story of DeeDee, an injured high-school athlete with an aggressively competitive nature who dreams of using her newly-conceived Dungeons & Dragons podcast as a forum for showcasing her superior gaming skills in her role of Dungeon Master. Her podcast, to promote this goal, hosts matches with call-in D&D competitors from around the globe, or at least from the other Kansas City.

The audio play's greatest strength is its ability to fully realize some engaging and fresh characters. There's DeeDee, a character who comes alive through her multitude of passions, including her love of D&D, her hatred for the *bleep* who deliberately injured DeeDee during a basketball game, and her insatiable thirst for victory. There's Dalton, one of the call-in players on DeeDee's podcast, who shares a name with Patrick Swayze's Dalton from the film Roadhouse. Throughout the play, Dalton makes repeated (and repeatedly funny) references to Roadhouse as he encounters turbulence in the game. One of the funniest characters, shown mostly through actions rather than dialogue, no mean feat in an audio play, is DeeDee's production assistant, Ryan, who fearlessly navigates the stormy world of DeeDee's production desires. It should be noted that the actors, led by Talia Leilani in the role of DeeDee, are all at the tops of their games.

Though the play includes snippets of D&D game play that provide niche humor that will likely delight actual D&D gamers, the best humor in this piece for non-gamers probably comes from the production element of DeeDee's podcast and, specifically, from the relationship between DeeDee and her production assistant. Ryan is rarely able to meet DeeDee's demands. She wants a panel of international gamers, but Ryan can only deliver people from Kansas City. She wants him to edit out anything boring, so he edits out 45 continuous minutes of DeeDee's confessional narrative. Why Ryan actually continues to work on DeeDee's project is anybody's guess.

Overall, there's a pleasant payoff for listeners as the well-produced audio play skillfully captures the awkwardness of a poorly-produced podcast.


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