Letters from The Twenty-Sided Tavern

Linda and Rowan LARP as theater critics for a tame night of misadventure and not nearly enough mayhem to make it worth traveling into Times Square.

Letters from The Twenty-Sided Tavern

The Twenty Sided Tavern is a Dungeons & Dragons off-Broadway production that consists of one Dungeon Master—in charge of the story, funny voices, and a lot of prop work—a Tavern Keeper—in charge of the rules and a good amount of technical button pushing—and three improv actors running around on stage at the behest of the audience, trying on different costume pieces and never really impacting the story, or sticking with any bit long enough to land a joke. It is, at best, a two-and-a-half hour long RPG-themed improv show where you are trapped in Waterdeep with a bunch of character comedians and no way to get out but to tap your phone when prompted and yell out goofy NPC names whenever the DM asks. 

On a warm Thursday evening, two rascals went to midtown Manhattan—Times Square, to be exact—and sat down for a show, sold as an interactive LARP. Neither of us really knew what to expect, and as we sat in our chairs, convincing ourselves that maybe this could be fun, that we would meet this production where it wanted us to be, we found ourselves more and more sure that this show was simply not that good. And, failing to be funny or interesting, its merits lay solely in its technical execution.

Welcome to Letters from the Twenty-Sided Tavern

Lin Codega: It’s important that we put this up top. This show was not meant for us, like at all. I’m not sure who the audience was, but it was certainly not me. 

Rowan Zeoli: As someone steeped in the New York comedy and theatre scene, I’d heard quite a lot about this show going in: from its off-off-off Broadway performances, to friends and colleagues who attended the audition process, to an endless series of targeted ads on every social media platform. As someone who thinks about actual play an arguably unhealthy amount, any opportunity to expand the AP and tabletop audience excites me. Though, as Lin said, this wasn’t made for me, I did my best to go into this production with the hope that it could provide a meaningful tabletop experience and convince even one audience member to seek out other shows in the medium. 

Codega: So we sat down, were asked to write some nouns and adjectives on a piece of paper, and turn them in for a kind of unexplained future Mad Libs. (On stage, the set was incredibly well made, although it looked like a cross in between a DJ setup and a board game cafe.) We were then asked to vote via a phone app for whatever cast member we remembered accosting us, and I distinctly remember one of the cast yelling out “a vote for me is a vote against the patriarchy!” 

This was the exact moment when I knew I was in the wrong place for a good time. The humor did not improve. As David Andrew Laws (who goes by DAGL, pronounced DAH-gull)–the DM–introduced himself, his character sheet was displayed on the screen behind the tavern stage. His hit points read “69,” which he pointed out, accompanied by a “nice” so tired it barely made it out bed. Thank god I had a gin and tonic.