Review by Max D’Ambrosio – Showbill.ca Staff Writer
Sex T-Rex have brought their 2015 original long-form scripted comedy, Swordplay: A Play of Swords, back to the 2017 Fringe. Swordplay takes cues from the movie The Princess Bride, videogame series such as Final Fantasy, and all manner of 80s and 90s pop culture gems, winding it all into a tight bundle of retro silliness. Yet, it’s much more than just a nostalgia trip.
The play primarily concerns the cheesy heroism of three swordsmen (Conor Bradbury, Seann Murray, and Julian Frid), operated as videogame characters by a grandfather (Peter Carlone) and his grandchild (Kaitlin Morrow). Each actor plays multiple roles, with rapid switching handled elegantly enough that things never get confusing. All are adept improvisers and inject additional wisecracks and flourishes into every spare moment between the frenetic slapstick action sequences and witty dialogue.
Not only does Swordplay maintain laugh-a-minute crowd-pleasing comedy throughout, it also delivers a story that’s satisfying in other ways. Cleverly written setup and payoff is applied to both dramatic and comedic turns.
Props and costumes contribute greatly to the overall sword-and-sorcery videogame aesthetic, including some smoothly-integrated quasi-puppetry with custom-made images of 8-bit character sprites for certain creative action scenes.
The Bottom Line
Swordplay: A Play of Swords is a tale of heart-warming and hilarious high-adventure, rife with highly polished storytelling and comedy. To inaccurately quote The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya: “Prepare to die… of laughter!”