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"You just embrace this bizarre world you find yourself in": Side Quest blend fantasy roleplaying with improv comedy

The Sheffield-based troupe are getting used to exploring audience-suggested locations like 'the cracks of a giant's toenail' to 'a land of liquid ice-cream'. Theatrical Director and Story Master Terri Silver told us more.

Side Quest

For the uninitiated, what's the concept behind Side Quest? Why combine Dungeons and Dragons with improv comedy?

Side Quest is a fantasy themed comedy show where audiences fill in a character sheet and watch those characters come to life on stage and go on a wacky adventure.

I started playing Dungeons and Dragons over Zoom during the Covid-19 lockdowns and realised that most of the game is playing make-believe with your friends. That’s what I have been doing my whole life.

The role-playing aspect of Dungeons and Dragons and improv are quite similar. Things are made up on the spot and no-one knows what is really going to happen next. You just embrace this bizarre world you find yourself in and react in character. So I decided to take the best elements of D&D and turn it into a show.

How has the show gone down so far? What have been some of the more memorable moments?

We were quite nervous for our first show, but the room was full and everyone loved it, and it’s been the same ever since. We could not have been more thrilled.

We get the best and silliest suggestions for character names and fantasy locations – from ‘the cracks of a giant's toenail’ to ‘a land of liquid ice-cream,’ and someone always throws in a ‘Tesco car park’. We go to all of these places and more. There was a five-minute long laughing frenzy when we played Meltdown E-Sports bar in the ‘generic video game alley’ scene.

Side Quest started at DINA, and since then it has played at various Sheffield venues, regularly at Steel Cauldron at Broomhill, Patriot Games tabletop gaming store, and staging a sold-out performance at Theatre Deli’s premises in Highfield in front of more than 100 people.

Is everyone who comes to the show already a D&D player or has it had a wider appeal?

We get a mix. A lot of gamers, but I’d say about half of our audience are unfamiliar with any RPGs.

It was important to me from the beginning to make sure it was accessible to everybody. My hope is this is the first approachable step into the world of fantasy role-playing for many.

We try to tell a narrative that is both satisfying and funny, and at the end of the day it’s the audience’s choice. Do they go left to the fairy mountains, or right to the forbidden forest? We put it to a vote, they decide and we proceed.

It seems to have struck a chord with people of all ages, I think partly because of the childlike joy of playing pretend that we embody so much. We now get many audience members coming in costume to share in the fun, which is a delight to see.

What other plans do you have for Side Quest this year?

We have already started to branch out of Sheffield. We have been booked to play MCM Comic Con in London in May, Fantasy Forest Festival in July and we will be going to Edinburgh Fringe 2024.

We want to see how far we can push this concept. We joke about a Channel 4 show, but you never know. Right now I’m just happy that so many people like what we are doing and I’m enjoying every minute of it...

Oh, and did I mention the big, inflatable ‘dice of fate’? You’ll have to come along and roll it for yourself!

Side Quest dice of fate
Side Quest is...

Theatrical Director and Story Master: Terri Silver.

Cast: Barney Thomas, Nicky Hindmarch, Rhys Hinds, Tom Mcgraff, Shannon Greaves, Ashley Routh, Tom Turner and Geoff Beard.

Music: Hazel Thompson.

Side Quest comes to Theatre Deli this Friday 3 May 2024.

Access info
Theatre Deli has disabled access via a ramp, an accessible toilet with space for a wheelchair, and its own car park.

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