‘The Twenty-Sided Tavern’ review — fantastical show leaves the decisions to you

Read our review of The Twenty-Sided Tavern off Broadway, the first official, interactive stage show based on the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

Austin Fimmano
Austin Fimmano

How does one turn Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG), into an Off-Broadway show? It’s no mean feat, but the immersive experience of Dungeons & Dragons: The Twenty-Sided Tavern (referencing the 20-sided die of the RPG) has pulled it off. The show captures all the imagination, excitement, and pure unpredictability of the game. What happens next depends on everyone participating — meaning, in this case, the audience.

Anyone who dislikes either fantasy or improv will probably not enjoy this show, but the experience caters to even the most casual fantasy fans. Drawing on the official lore of Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons without getting lost in the wealth of the canon, The Twenty-Sided Tavern is a real nerd’s treat. The cozy tavern set is elaborate, inviting, and functional. Live dice rolls are cleverly projected behind the stage, part of the immersive lighting, projection, and sound design that top off the experience.

The Twenty-Sided Tavern couldn’t ask for a better Dungeon Master than DAGL, a performer and also one of the show's creators. He's the perfect straight man alongside the antics of the three players as well as a series of laugh-out-loud NPCs (non-player characters). The players (Madelyn Murphy, Tyler Nowell Felix, and Diego Salinas) leave their fate — and their characters — in our hands. They each have three character profiles that the audience votes on.

The actors tackle their roles with undiluted enthusiasm. They genuinely crack each other up and seem to be having the time of their lives. Will you watch, as I did, the adventures of an undead cowboy, a tiny supervillain, and a man who's actually two halflings in a trench coat? Or something entirely different?

The possibilities are endless with The Twenty-Sided Tavern. It would be impossible to predict the kind of show that any one audience will have, except to say that it’s probably going to be a great time.

2 twenty sided tavern-1200x600-NYTG

The Twenty-Sided Tavern summary

Created by David Carpenter, David Andrew Laws (DAGL), and Sarah Davis Reynolds, The Twenty-Sided Tavern is an interactive Dungeons & Dragons theatre experience. While Dungeon Master DAGL runs the proceedings up on stage, three players — a warrior, a mage, and a trickster - embark on an adventure in the Forgotten Realms, using live dice rolls broadcasted for everyone to see. The audience chooses which character each player will be and many more vital decisions.

You’ll be an active participant the whole way through, whether by shouting out suggestions or using your phone to control the direction of the gameplay. If you’re really adventurous, you might even get to go on stage.

What to expect at The Twenty-Sided Tavern

As the actors say up top: “The fourth wall has been shattered.” The players come into the audience frequently to take volunteers or offer encouragement during the interactive parts of the campaign. On the night I attended, the audience energy was off the charts from the beginning, but the character interaction had everyone feeling pretty chummy by the end of the night, with some even yelling out answers to riddles to help other audience members — to aid in each other’s quests, if you will.

Expect people to attend in costumes, whether it be a full wizard getup or a simple pair of elf ears. Parents and their children showed up to my performance in costume. The bar area outside the theatre is designed to look like a medieval tavern, establishing the ambience and offering plenty of photo opportunities.

Much of the audience interaction during the show happens via Gamiotics, a browser-based software that you’ll use to answer riddles, vote for characters, and choose gameplay options. The voting and the games come and go pretty fast, so you’re encouraged to have your browser open and at the ready for the entire two-hour show. Arrive with a fully charged phone, even though the software shouldn’t drain your battery.

3 twenty sided tavern-1200x600-NYTG

What audiences are saying about The Twenty-Sided Tavern

Since the show allows photos and videos during the performance, TikToks and Instagram reels documenting the visually rich audience experience have been making the rounds and racking up views.

  • “Because it is both interactive and involves quite a bit of improv, no two shows are exactly alike.” - TikTok user @kai.in.wonderland
  • “My girlfriend’s a professional Dungeon Master and she loved it, so it’s DM-approved.” - TikTok user @amandahasbangs
  • “Our Dungeon Master and our cast were all just hilarious… they really made it accessible for newcomers and enjoyable for long-term fans.” - TikTok user @costumingcaroline

Who should see The Twenty-Sided Tavern

  • It should go without saying that this show is a must-see for Dungeons & Dragons fans, but the imaginative adventuring will appeal to lovers of all kinds of fantasy media, be it Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and beyond.
  • Anyone looking to impress family or friends with a unique theatrical experience - that is to say, interactive - will meet the mark with this show.
  • Fans of any kind of improv shows such as Drunk Shakespeare or Second City's shows will love The Twenty-Sided Tavern, which features improv veterans of both as well as spontaneous shots of the liquor Malört, a nod to the show’s Chicago roots.

Learn more about The Twenty-Sided Tavern off Broadway

The Twenty-Sided Tavern is one of the most unique shows to see in New York right now. Novelty notwithstanding, the vigor of the cast and the loving pandering to nerds of all kinds set it apart.

Learn more and get The Twenty-Sided Tavern tickets on New York Theatre Guide. The Twenty-Sided Tavern is at Stage 42.

Photo credit: The Twenty-Sided Tavern off Broadway. (Photos by Bronwen Sharp)

Originally published on

Subscribe to our newsletter to unlock exclusive New York theatre updates!

Special offers, reviews and release dates for the best shows in town.

You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy