Premiere of Trinity Theatre Company's 'LARPing' explores the limits of fantasy and attraction
by Cassiopeia Guthrie, November 19, 2022
Not always knowing the rules of engagement, not being sure whether or not you’re still playing… these are complex ideas, especially to fantasy aficionados, but they are central to Trinity Theatre’s premiere production of LARPing, directed by Sean Boyd and Eddy Lukovic and running through Nov. 20.
This sexy and nerdy comedy, the brainchild of Greg Romero and Brian Grace-Duff, brings Dungeon Master Britta and rule-breaker John to life alongside strip club DJ Jenny and patron David (played by the same two actors) in a show that explores live action role play and just how deep the rabbit hole goes and where reality and fantasy intersect. And while the production itself is simple in its presentation, where it saves in polish it makes up in spades in heart and magic.
The two actors, Kimberly Weinberger (Britta/Jenny) and Jonny Taylor (John/David), both debuting with Trinity Theatre, are in their element in this production. Both actors are skilled at portraying the different personas called upon by the script. Weinberger is magnetic as the creative enthusiast and storyteller Britta, weaving mystical worlds and stories, yet then turns on a dime to proclaim disgustedly that it is “not a game” anymore. Moments later, she reappears as The North Pole’s music mixer, Jenny, wearing a completely different affect and set of disenchanted mannerisms. Taylor is charming as the wide-eyed naif and LARPer who crushes hard on his Dungeons and Dragons pal, and then shifts to cocksure as David.
Their work is outstanding throughout the production, but especially so in one particularly interesting scene which explores a truth or dare game. As the game begins, I found myself wondering whether we’d finally see the tension between the characters break. Would they at long last be real with each other? What is the interplay between reality and fiction? At what point do we stop and ask ourselves if it’s worth playing the game?
It’s worth mentioning that I can see where some, especially those unfamiliar with the general concept of live action role play, might have a difficult time following the storyline of the show. In a space like the theatre, where attention is carefully controlled through intentional choices on behalf of the playwright, production team, and performers, there were details that served as distractions. These included baby oil, unused props, the presentation of David as “brother” to John (thus establishing his personhood), assistance with executing some scene changes but not others, and the whole bit about making a key… perhaps with some more exploration or different staging, some of these unfinished ideas might make more sense, rather than feeling like bread crumbs leading to sealed doors.
That said, I found LARPing to be a true love story to the fantasy community and a nod to finding a balance between the masks we wear and who we are underneath. It’s campy, nerdy, and steamy (this is live action role play after all!) and absolutely worth a visit to Community Actor’s Theatre by Nov. 20. Tickets are available at trinityttc.org. Recommended for audiences 18+.