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EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: QUESTING TIME, Pleasance Dome

EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: QUESTING TIME, Pleasance Dome

EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: QUESTING TIME, Pleasance DomeQuesting Time is one of a number of Fringe shows turning geeky interests into live performances. Based around the format of a Dungeons & Dragons game, each show features a rotating trio of Fringe comedians attempting to muddle their way through a fantasy adventure role-playing game.

Paul Foxcroft is an affable host, serving as both storyteller and attempted guide for his players as they grapple with character sheets, magic spell cards and dice of all shapes and sizes.

Unfortunately, the show does suffer from guest comedians not having enough confidence to riff on the material before them. Repeating the weird-sounding contents of their character biographies in a slow, laconic fashion was not effective comedy.

One of the delights of Dungeons & Dragons is the sheer freedom it gives players - they can feasibly attempt anything of which they can conceive. On this occasion, however, the players seemed to respond to such possibilities with toddler-like sadism, attempting to create humour by destroying anything crossing their path and revelling in the resulting chaos.

There were few attempts at actually playing a role - rather necessary in a role-playing game - which misses out on so much of the fun of the format. Instead, there was an over-reliance on very mainstream pop culture references, a strange choice in an inherently niche piece.

This was an audience who audibly delighted in the show kicking off with the Skyrim theme (and certainly the tech crew deserve special credit for trying to respond with lighting and sound to the improvised action). If the show had leaned in further to its niche appeal with its comedy, it could have tapped in to the sort of passion that leads to cult Fringe hits built on obscure but hilarious references.

Indeed, the more memorable and amusing moments were the ones that were closest to a real role-playing game experience - for example, the visual comedy of Foxcroft sadly crossing off half a page of his planned story when the players find a sneaky shortcut (familiar to anyone who has gone into such a game with a plan), or the moments where he quietly beseeches the audience not to spoil the excitement of a guest comic suddenly convinced he has outsmarted Foxcroft after misreading the rules.

Overall, Questing Time is a show that gives the impression it is unsure which role to play. Is it an opportunity to revel in all things nerdy or is it aiming for a wider appeal for watching comedians try something unfamiliar? If the latter, a more simplistic format would allow its guests confidence to shine, and if the former, having confidence in its audience could result in a critical hit.

Questing Time is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August

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From This Author Amy Hanson