TRIPOD VS THE DRAGON
Though not a hat-wearer myself, I do maintain a dilettante's fascination with the three schools of millinery expression; namely, tilting, raising and doffing. Within these umbrella categories are, of course, an endless array of sub-disciplines (why, tilting alone has to canvas the entire radius of angles from 'jaunty' to 'rakish') and I'll admit that my interest waned in the great circumcranial rim displacement debates that seared the globe during the 90s after baseball caps began to revolve in almost fractally intricate ways. On the other hand, after catching Tripod's latest show I was tempted to knock a nearby punter down so that I could steal their hat and pointedly doff it in the direction of the geeky trio.
Tripod vs the Dragon is the group's most musically sophisticated and comically confident show yet. And it's about Dungeons & Dragons. Strike that, it is Dungeons & Dragons, though the name of the game itself had to be struck from the original title after the damn lawyers got involved. But there's no hiding the fact that the show is essentially a game of D&D played live, with the participants acting out their characters, expressed through the medium of song.
On that front TvtD is almost operatic in its accomplishment – the opening number is nothing but the words “Dawn of Time” repeated over and over but the harmonies the group create are like Brian Wilson scoring a Frank Fazetta convention. When guest Elana Stone takes to the mic around 500 jaws simultaneously hit the floor, and you get the feeling that you're watching Australia's first pin-up girl for nerd-dom assuming her rightful throne.
Tripod have been gigging for around 15 years, I think, and they're at the top of their game here. While I've seen a fair bit of musical comedy this festival, I reckon it should be required that comics in that field study Tripod for a few years before trying it on themselves. There's a lot more to musical comedy than just singing a mildly funny song while inexpertly playing an instrument or two. These guys are proof of that.