Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Choose Your Own Edventure
Venue: Laughing Horse @ the Counting House
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
With over 500 shows at this year’s Free Fringe, counting for both Laughing Horse and PBH, there is a huge choice, and a huge variety in quality and style. With little to no money lavished on the show, Free Fringe shows need to stand out for different reasons, and Jim Holland has created something delectably quirky and inventive. Choose Your Own Edventure is wacky, silly and just a little bit ridiculous, with a clever twist ending. While the production is unpolished and raw, and could do with some staging and directing, the base idea is simple and fun, and Jim Holland is a delightful story-teller.
A warren of corridors and rooms greet the weary traveller as the reach the Counting House, one of the many Laughing Horse venues. Travelling through this warren to arrive at the lair of Jim Holland’s weird and wacky story-telling is fitting, as Holland launches into his peculiar tale. A story is told, becoming more and more bizarre as time goes on, with various points at which the audience can choose what happens next. This continues for some time, and, as Holland’s telling becomes more and more erratic, and the story more and more bizarre, the door bursts open and the main character strides in, gesticulating at Holland for controlling his day using the audience’s "psychic energy". The audience is then encouraged to take part in an argument using the same choose-your-own-adventure angle, and the two character reconcile.
What sounds bizarre and a little unwatchable on paper is actually riotous good fun. The story is well written and told, with the various choices leading to more and more absurd moments, until the piece’s final absurdity of the character being real and interrrupting his own story seems entirely plausible. Combined with Mr Holland’s excellent story-telling, and occasional pieces of stand-up, this makes the piece pleasantly watchable and interesting. However, more attention should really have been paid to the staging and denoument of this piece. A smidgeon of theatricality would have made the ending more performative, and thus more qualitative. What seemed a little rushed and slapped together could have done with a little staging and direction.
That being said, this piece stands out as being an excellent concept, and the story-telling is strong and interesting. Holland is a wonderful story-teller, and his stand-up comedy background makes his deliver quick and insightful. A little more theatricality and, dare I say, money could easily allow this piece to develop beyond these beginnings, and gain Holland the credit he deserves for his abilities.