How do you review a show which involves you spectating other people playing
Perhaps it is best to remain satisfied that this is something that takes place at the Fringe and also that you are not in a room watching it.
Total Party Kill! are endeavouring to put on a 250-hour-long game across the festival at the new Sweet Holyrood venue, in which a perilous fantasy narrative is navigated by four adventurers sitting at the front, with the subtle guidance of the GM, using a combination of creative storytelling, skills sheets and D20 roles. Two of the adventurers are played by permanent members of the show, and two spaces are left open for members of the audience. This means that there are two types of tickets available: either ‘player’ tickets in which you devise your own character to join the two mainstay characters (for a fleeting hour in their monumental voyage); or ‘spectator’ tickets in which you merely witness the game playing out in front of you. In fact, there is also a third option, because the entire show is being broadcast by live-stream via Twitch on the internet.
On the whole, spectating a game of Dungeons and Dragons is not hugely entertaining. The players predominately don’t actually act out their characters, instead describing what they intend to do, and a large part of the hour was just the participants chatting. However, there was a comfortable and reassuring rhythm to the proceedings, and there was a sense of this being a privileged peek into a subculture hobby normally hidden away in dining rooms. Having found myself as a spectator witnessing the 54th hour, the four heroes on board a ship entitled The Spirit of the Horizon had reached a point in their quest where they needed to rescue three endangered queens from various druids and an overlord called Demali. Some of the descriptions of roaming monsters went over my head, and this may have been because I had missed the previous 53 hours in which they had presumably been introduced, but also because the starting assumption of the GM was an in-depth knowledge of niche fantasy tropes that surpasses a dabbling interest. Perhaps the highlight of the proceedings was the bard Relora, played by Chloe Mashiter, performing a real-life song on a ukulele, referred to as a ‘song of rest’, and deployed to determine how much additional healing could be derived from various resulting die rolls.
This is one of those shows whose existence contributes some part to the Fringe’s mystique of almost infinite variety, but I would stress quite strongly that attending is only to be recommended if you are a fan of Dungeons and Dragons. Otherwise, perhaps it is best to remain satisfied that this is something that takes place at the Fringe and also that you are not in a room watching it.