I am sceptical of musical theatre in any form. I think my feelings are somewhere along the lines of: if you can sing it, why don’t you just say it, and if you think your singing’s so good, why don’t you just join a band? I’ve been to a few musicals, and sure, some of them have been beautiful, elaborate productions, funny or moving, so on and so forth. But once you’ve heard the chorus of a song, where they sing the point of the scene (“Lisa it’s your birthday”, and other much more high-class examples) then I get the point. You don’t have to sing it again. But you will, because it’s musical theatre, and it’s there to repeat the same line until you throw up your hands and say, “Fine, I get it. It’s Lisa’s birthday. I understand.”
Musical comedy is a little trickier to judge. I like to laugh. (A strange quirk, I know, but there you are—one of my most embarrassing and intimate secrets revealed to all.) But I don’t like musicals. A quandary! But when the suggestion came up from lovely co-worker D to accompany her to see Tripod’s new show Tripod vs the Dragon, on the day it was getting filmed for DVD, I said a firm hell yes. Because comedy is funny, and I’d never actually seen a full Tripod show—only skits on those epic musical all-nighters they show on TV when the comedy festivals come out. Now was the time to branch out, so I practised my ridiculous laugh so that I could be heard clearly when I purchased the DVD later. But that was only 76% of my reasoning to go.
Tripod vs the Dragon is the musical tale of a game of Dungeons and Dragons, with our three Tripod heroes, Scod (Scott Edgar), Yon (Simon Hall) and Gatesy (Steven Gates), chancing upon a map that has a mysterious missing area. They decide to explore, but will they listen to warnings about a dragon in the area? Of course not, because it’s called Tripod vs the Dragon. This differs from other Tripod performances by the addition of jazz songstress Elana Stone, who really should have caused the renaming of the troupe to Quadpod, as she was quite a useful (and vocally as well as visually gorgeous) member of the group. As game master and an important part of the story, she stole the heart of poor goofy Gatesy, and the audience too.
It was hilarious. Some jokes made me feel deep, lasting regret that I had not gone to the bathroom before the show. Tripod was pleasantly sweary, and they bang out a good tune. They harmonise beautifully, and are clearly talented musicians. They’ve got fantastic chemistry and have clearly been honing the skill of being scathing to each other for years. Elana had great comedic timing, and fit in just fine. Some of the story was told through shadow puppetry, purposefully simplistic and thus fantastic, and those were my favourite parts. What can I say? I love a good cardboard cut-out.
It didn’t really alter my opinion of musicals being one of my least favourite types of comedy, but it’s definitely my favourite kind of musical theatre. It was fun and funny, I had a blast, and the fact that they were filming a DVD means that this could be my big break into the film industry. Well, maybe if we hadn’t been in the second row from the back. The actual DVD recording aspect was quite entertaining, with them explaining to us what was going on, cameras all over the place, and an understandable blanket ban on toilet breaks during the show. When they had to repeat a skit at the end to make sure the sound was right, it was like we were old pals and they were asking us a favour. They also left the theatre just after everyone else and will happily stand around and chat. Because they’re cool.
In summary: Meets Expectations. I thought they’d be funny, and they were; I thought the songs might occasionally be repetitive, and they were. But it’s okay; it’s still a million times better than listening to the Top 40. (I say this, but as I seem to be only listening to the new albums at work, I don’t really know. For all I know Justin Bieber and his ilk might actually be quite talented.)