I sing of Pretenderos, land of plot complications. The return of Die-Nasty to a lawless land

Photo by Mark Meer

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

Trolls? You want trolls? How about a dragon? “I’ll make it happen,” says a portentous rumbling voice from the dark. “This is a world with No Rules.” Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. 

Welcome to the kingdom of valiant deeds and vengeful vows, lustful double-takes, eye-watering gazes into the mid-distance, murderous looks, slow-motion action sequences, and intense people who say “and yet…”

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I stand before you (well, OK, sit…) to ponder episode #2 of the new season of Edmonton’s weekly improvised soap opera Die-Nasty, set in the land of Pretenderos. I caught Lord of Thrones on Monday night, to discover that The House of Calgaria has fallen in a great battle. “I fear the Calgarians have gone down in Flames,” says David Calgarian (Matt Alden) of that ancient line.

Old Strathconia, the king of the victorious side, is dead. Murdered! And the new king (Jeff Haslam) is quite sulky about this additional stress, since ruling is bound to interfere with his normal pursuits, “whoring and drinking.” So he’s looking for allies, like Sherwood Park (Tom Edwards, in a particularly fetching wig), to do all the work. Ominously, Lord Strathconia’s fiancée Margot (Kristi Hansen) is nowhere to be found; does that signal guilt? 

It’s a dangerous world, my friends. Someone has a ring, THE ring, and she’s a Calgarian (Stephanie Wolfe). Someone else has a dragon’s egg. And hey, there is a dragon, the last one (fun fact: you have to know how to bond with a dragon or you’re really screwed).

The dragon, incidentally, re-purposes the trench that dominates the set of Shadow Theatre’s The Comedy Company, currently evoking the First World War in a run that ends Nov. 11. 

And there’s this: the remaining Calgarians are on the move, heading north. One of them is the fierce (but lovestruck) warrior Airdrie Calgarian (played by Die-Nasty newcomer Tyra Banda in a helmet and highly amusing winter coat with buttons down the front). She has lethal expertise with the mallet. Currently, no one to my knowledge is working on a PhD thesis about the uses of the wooden mallet in medieval warfare, but someone really should be. Wooden mallets cut to the chase in a way that makes swordplay look merely decorative.

There are hostages: the king’s sister Lady Patricia (Sheri Somerville) has one of her very own that she acquired while falling off a mountain. Everyone is ambitious and pretty thoroughly untrustworthy: Monday’s episode had a big musical number “Who Do I Believe?”, a Sondheim-esque homage that acknowledged the proliferating treachery of the world. In Lord of Thrones, a cross-hatching of two of the most intricate plots in human history, no complication is out of the question. Being dead, for example, promises not to be a setback. Just a glitch. 

Anyhow, the cast and the complications are exponentially amplified for next Monday’s episode with the return of Mark Meer, Belinda Cornish, and Jesse Gervais to the series. Will Margot reappear? Lord of Thrones gets made up on the spot every Monday night at the Varscona. It can be your guilty pleasure.   

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