By Dylan Haslam
This summer will long be remembered for its fifty-plus days filled with rain, seemingly endless cloudy days, and record low attendance at Klondike Days. However, there are alternative events in places around the city that serve to occupy a few hours of your night. While they may be slightly lesser known than larger-scale events that always make a seasonal appearance, they act as Edmonton’s own hidden gems. One such hidden gem is the Rapid Fire Theatre, whose shows take place every week at the Citadel downtown. Rapid Fire offers a variety of improv-style shows that are deemed very much affordable by the modern day university student. No matter the weather, Rapid Fire is there to offer relief from your everyday life and immerse you in a world created instantly before your eyes. Shows offered span over a variety of themes. If you are in the mood to laugh, be scared, or even if you need a good cry, you are in for an unforgettable experience. It is fun for the entire family, though some improv shows may contain more mature subject matter.
Improvised Dungeons and Dragons was the most recent show. It was hosted Saturday, September 7th by Mark Meer, the voice of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect trilogy. Meer took on the roll of the “Dungeon Master” and provided the audience with an adventure full of comedy, love, loss, and, most importantly, twizzlers! I was fortunate enough to bear witness to this grand adventure as it unfolded. This particular story followed a quest of family taken by a lovable but diverse party of characters respectfully known as “Avengers_69.” The party aided their new comrade Rayban the Chill in repairing a once-severed bond with his father, while also attempting to discover the mysterious circumstances surrounding his father’s sudden illness. The characters were diverse enough that each individual persona was able to bring something remarkable to the table. The party was modeled like that of a traditional campaign in that there were familiars that accompanied their master/conjurer, as well as the specific set of spells used frequently in the early stages of the game. This gave way to various points containing comedic effect. Because it was improvised, the players had to quickly recall the spells that their characters were able to use. Some spells may have been used at the wrong time, but that further contributed to the authentic and funny nature of the show. It had been awhile since I’d laughed that hard.
In addition, Meer takes on the role of many characters that our heroes encounter as they progress closer to Rayban’s hometown of “The Woods of Charles.” Meer’s talented voice acting allowed us, as an audience, to truly experience the quest. From accents to body language, Meer was able to convey just how different each random character that the party encountered. No character he played felt like another. It was a level of pageantry and presentation that only one who appreciates the depth of Dungeons and Dragons–and contains an expert level of acting skills–can portray.
Lastly, Improvised Dungeons and Dragons conveyed just the right amount of traditional Dungeons and Dragons gameplay and tabletop accuracy while simultaneously giving us much more. This show took the complexity of a game that has been enjoyed by many since the late 1970s and gave it a modern twist. It provided entertainment that contained both the game’s original integrity, as well as aspects of modern day pop-culture. This created a diverse audience. Those who enjoy improv, those who play DnD, and those who attended simply because of Meer, were seated together with a common goal: to be entertained.
Rapid Fire is also available for hire to put on shows at venues and events of your choosing. They are definitely worth a visit. You will not be disappointed.