The Twenty-Sided Tavern—written by David Andrew Greener Laws (aka DAGL), with game design by Sarah Davis Reynolds, and produced by David Carpenter, is an interactive, theatrical quest that invites you to control the story from the comfort of your seat.
Inspired by fantasy tabletop role-playing games, you choose the characters and the choices they make from your smartphone. Using a browser-based software created by Carpenter’s company Gamiotics Inc., you vote on decisions, multiclick for combat, and solve riddles.
There are opportunities to participate onstage, but they are voluntary. This production, presented by Broadway in Chicago at the Broadway Playhouse, strikes an entertaining balance between digital and in-person interaction, letting you decide how much you want to be involved. Even if you don’t want to play the game, there are still plenty of comedic and improvisational moments to enjoy.
The Twenty-Sided Tavern Through 1/15: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 7:30 PM; also Fri 11/25, 2 PM, Wed 12/21 and 12/28 2 and 7:30 PM, Sat 12/24 2 PM only, no show Thu 11/24 or Sun 12/25; Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut, 800-775-2000, broadwayinchicago.com, $40-$65
On its opening night, the Dungeons & Dragons-esque show attracted an audience of all ages and backgrounds, confirming you do not have to be a gamer to understand the game. Onstage, as our “Gamemaster” and “Tavern Keeper,” DAGL and Reynolds explained the rules and guided us through the experience. With the fourth wall completely shattered, opening night’s vocal audience had a lot of fun interacting with the actors. At one point, after having a streak with only male characters, one audience member insisted we change one of the characters’ genders, and the cast agreed.
Although Gamiotics lagged on my phone a few times, The Twenty-Sided Tavern fills a gap in live theater by bringing accessible technology to the stage. As the production changes every night based on audience engagement, it redefines experiential entertainment, reminding us that we write our stories.