Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"When a famous scientist is abducted, it takes his two children, their best friend, an incompetent storyteller, and you to rescue him. Join an intrepid gang of young detectives to explore a dark and exciting disused building – discover clues, crack codes and find your deepest courage to help solve a fiendishly puzzling mystery. The Famous Five meets Scooby Doo meets The Crystal Maze in this unique hour of funny, scary and inventive interactive theatre. You won’t be sat in the dark watching a play… you’ll be at the heart of The Adventure!"
The Adventure is a lot of fun. It is a production that takes the children with parents in tow on a journey, out of the Pleasance Courtyard and to…. somewhere else…. Somewhere exciting.
I can’t tell you any more, because that would spoil this unique hour of an interactive show.
So, I’ll attempt to review it without giving a thing away.
A young cast deliver a thriller for kids right out of the world of the Famous Five. The story isn’t very original, but it is the familiarity that creates almost instant engagement and accessibility.
The children go on an adventure, finding clues, encountering danger, working out problems, and ultimately solving a mystery.
It is all very well conceived, occasionally a bit too chaotic, but I watched some children excited and involved with every fibre of their being. Others looked on, a bit more on the edges, but still fascinated.
Dark humour, unpredictable happenings and a satisfying ending all make for an enjoyable hour on the move. No static theatre here. The design is strong with plenty happening and a sequence that carries a narrative simple enough for younger children, and challenging enough for the older ones. Tension is created but it never becomes too forced. It’s an immersive experience and it is packed with humour, darkness, an encounter with the threshold of fear, and the lesson that we should all stick together when darkness closes in.
If I have one criticism it is that it is a bit too derivative. Children’s adventure fiction is a richer place than just Scooby Doo and The Famous Five. We have Garth Nix, we have Jenny Nimmo, and we have a whole host of children’s horror writers. I think there’s scope to be inspired by this broader source of children’s adventure material.
A few more virtues:
– the dialogue between the actors is fluid, evocative and always stays close to the narrative, keeping our attention and acting as an anchor to place and story
– the use of light and darkness is brilliantly conceived
– there’s a well designed builded up the the ending part of the production – the piece goes somewhere; a real journey, a live story of which we are active participants
– the children are never patronised; there’s a sense of respect for us all in this process
Only occasionally, does the thing fracture a bit and then it seems that there’s too much going on and it gets a bit noisy – like a rowdy class. That said, what we have here is a fully involving show, delivered by a 110% committed cast, packed with excitement and unpredictability.
I’m really struggling now, because I want to tell you at least a bit about what happens. But I won’t. Instead I will highly recommend you see The Adventure.
Oh, and the nine year-old I brought with me said this: "It’s the best show I’ve seen this year."