Review: +1 Sword

From Left: Ben McKenzie; a fake sword; Richard McKenzie

From Left: Ben McKenzie; a fake sword; Richard McKenzie

+1 Sword
Starring: Ben McKenzie and Richard McKenzie
Appearing at: Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets, for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival


The dark, bluestone walls which enclose the lower levels of Caz Reitops provide the perfect setting for Richard and Ben McKenzie’s (aka, the unrelated McKenzies) deliciously geeky homage to the king of roleplaying games, namely Dungeons and Dragons. If you don’t understand the difference between the dragon-like creature ‘Wyvern’ (two legs, barbed tail) and your stock standard ‘Dragon’ (four legs, dragon-type tail), the affable McKenzies provide enough enthusiasm and self-deprecation to draw you into their fantastic realm.

Richard is the manchildish buffoon to Ben’s wizardlike seriousness, each providing a natural counterpoint to the other. After an initial quarrel to decide who gets to introduce the show, they resolve to ‘roll for initiative’. The laughter which ensues must be a relief to our hosts, for the geeks are clearly in.

The McKenzies take us on a potted history of the game, developed by university student Dave Arneson and the delightfully named wargaming enthusiast Gary Gygax. Like all cultural phenomena, D&D at one point even raised the ire of the religious right, concerned – as they often have been – about precisely what role Satan might be playing in the game. Concurrently, the lads choose a handful of audience members to take part in an improvised game, as they explain to the newcomers the various races (half-elves, as a result of their mixed ethnicity, are necessarily hot) and classes (druids can turn into bears) of characters that make up the game.

The live game veers chaotically from the real thing, and its here that the show really shines. The lads, seasoned gamers as they are, are able to tell which players are new to the game. This allows them to tailor their performance accordingly, drawing dungeon masters and n00bs together. The result is energetic, clever and warm, and at all times remains a genuine homage to one of the most popular games of the twentieth century.

Related stories:

  1. Review: The List Operators Here's a list of comedy festival shows that I've seen...
  2. Review: Nick Caddaye in The 10th Anniversary of Failure Nick Caddaye brings his uniquely jaundiced take on life to...
  3. Review: Eric: The One Man Sketch Comedy Show An imaginative world of laughs somehow springs from just Scott...
  4. Review: Last Tuesday Society On a sweltering Tuesday night, we witnessed comedy, poetry, rapping...


  1. [...] but rightly awarded +1 cool to the groovy dungeon basement of Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets, while The Enthusiast scored us 7/10 and calls us “energetic, clever and [...]

Speak Your Mind