Edinburgh Fringe 2014
“As you flick through the Fringe programme you stumble across a spoof fantasy adventure for all the family, playing at C venues. But in this show, the audience are called to make the key decisions to guide our adventurers to victory. Should you…(a) Buy tickets now! (b) Consult a passing wizard (c) Enquire about concession prices for elves, or (d) Stay away – it could be a sneaky goblin trick…An irreverent tribute to fantasy fiction, Choose Your Own Adventure and role-playing games that promises to have all ages gripped, amused and entertained”.
As we walked into the realm of the Adventure machine we were greeted with big hellos and smiles by the cast already on stage, who handed out laminated coloured cards with A, B and C on each one. My 10 year old was really excited as I had told him this play was based on the adventure books where you make choices throughout about what happens next. The cast had on their normal clothes but when a choice had to be made they would dive into their dressing up box and become a new character to continue the story. They used ideas from the audience such as someone’s name and favourite hobby and so on and integrated these into the story, which worked really well to help the audience feel a part of things.
The characters were fairly humorous, more like caricatures, and not particularly convincing but the audience seemed to enjoy this relaxed feel. The cast were bouncy and full of energy and fun and children and adults alike were laughing and smiling throughout. The narrator held the story well and at times the action became quite fast paced, entwined with the audience making quick choices about what our heroes would do next – this was particularly well delivered and the cast really stepped up here and gave a meatiness to the show that kept the attention on the dramatic story line. The flow wasn’t too interrupted by the moments to stop and vote, which was a great achievement as the semi improvisational nature of the script was clearly more challenging than conventional scripts.
It worked well that the narrator repeated the options each time so the audience understood and it felt very fine to make a ‘wrong’ choice but there was enough tension added to these choices that gave them value. The main character was played extremely well with commitment and helped the audience to identify with her quest more seriously. The atmosphere was fun and informal with a simple set and warm lighting that made the audience feel part of the story.
Some aspects were a little questionable for a younger audience, especially in the way death was depicted and staged – alternative methods may have better mirrored the lightness and humour of the show. My son loved it, as we left he said “That was sooo good.” When I asked him why he said it was because it was “different every time and that you could choose what happened…it felt like you were in it”.