I haven’t met a Force of Nature production that I didn’t like, so I was excited to join the packed house at The Actors Workout Studio for the world premiere of Thomas J. Misuraca’s Masters of the Dark Realm. Misuraca is a globally produced playwright with numerous writing awards to his credit and his musical Geeks! is currently running Off-Broadway.
Before attending, I made sure to read the description to see what I was in for – When a group of long-time friends end their fantasy role playing game, Masters of the Dark Realm, they seek out new quests in the real world. Will a tragedy bring them together to slay their dragons, or cause their fellowship to fall apart? “Tragedy?” Somehow I missed the word “tragedy” in the description, and let me tell you, I was not at all prepared. In fact, witnesses will confirm that I silently cried my way through most of the second act.
The play follows a group of 5 friends embarking on their final days playing their beloved Dungeons & Dragons-style role-playing game, Masters of The Dark Realm, to make space for big life changes. What I thought was going to be a nerdy night of silliness turned out to be much more. Masters of The Dark Realm mirrors the clash of fantasy and reality for its characters, with its underlying juxtaposition of comedy and drama. Just as you’ve chuckled your way through the first act, the second comes in to slap you in the face with adversity. Masters of The Dark Realm is a drama cleverly disguised as a comedy, and it tricked me into joining its rollercoaster journey. It made me hug my boyfriend tight and genuinely appreciate our movie night with friends the following evening. If a performance can follow you home and affect you in your personal life, that’s truly saying something.
After the show, director Corey Chappell described some of the behind the scenes hardships and doubts the actors faced in taking on these difficult roles, and their desire to do it justice, especially for those who have lived the story’s tragedy first-hand. The play features the talents of Noah Kaplan, Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm, Brett Gustafson, Daisy Donohue and a heartbreaking standout performance from Rachel Christianson.
You may know Force of Nature Productions from their fun, spooky and kooky sides but I encourage you not to miss out on the relatable deep dive into friendship, loss, love and life that is Masters of The Dark Realm. Gamers and nerds will enjoy some special nods and laughs, but the underlying story is sure to resonate with a much larger audience.
Masters of the Dark Realm is still running Fridays & Saturdays through July 13th. Tickets are available at fonprods.tix.com. Bring some tissues.
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