This past Friday night, my boyfriend and I went to see the play “Of Dice and Men” at the Impact Theater in Berkeley. The play premiered at Penny Arcade Expo East 2011, of all places, to rave reviews. But it’s strange premier setting makes sense, as it’s the story of a year 30 year old Dungeons and Dragons DM who tries to escape the gaming life when his D&D group begins collapsing.
The play is very character driven, and not only do the actors portray the players, they also play their D&D characters. It was an inventive take on the dual roles many actors play in productions, and I enjoyed seeing both “sides” of the characters. While I think a couple of the actors needed a little more warming up to get into their roles, by intermission, I was engrossed. (It’s always fun to pull back for a minute when you’re watching a play and think, “I’m not watching television or a movie. It’s live and I’m never going to see this again!”) The actors were all really hilarious, but I especially loved the character of Linda, played by Linda Ruth-Cordozo, a middle-aged mother of two and a hammer-welding Irish elf with a foul mouth.
The only real problem I had with the play itself is that I believe the character of Jason, whom the drama mainly revolved around, did not have enough character development in the first act to make his revelation before intermission believable. While the audience learns much more about him in the second act, I felt a lot was missing beforehand, and I couldn’t really read his game changing (um, sorry) decision. Jason’s only scene previous to his announcement is him awkwardly asking the DM and his best friend about D&D when they were in high school. I felt I learned a lot more about the other characters, in and out of their D&D roles, before the end of the first act, while Jason remained unreadable. That is not to say his actor was bad, of course; I really enjoyed Jonathon Brooks in the role, and I thought he made quite a dashing paladin.
Overall, I loved the play and everyone in it! Impact Theater has the added bonus of being located underneath La Val’s Pizza, where you can get dinner and eat while watching the play. In fact, Impact’s tagline is “Pizza. Beer. Plays.” Can’t beat that, can you?
“Of Dice and Men” is playing at the Impact Theater, located below La Val’s Pizza, at 1834 Euclid, Berkeley, CA.
The show runs Thursday through Saturday from now until October 1st.