Pins & Needles Productions’ Select a Quest is presented as an interactive theatrical experience; envisage a fusion of a video game and a theatre performance. Directed by Emma Earle and created in just 72 hours, it’s a great initiative to bring theatre to children during these difficult times. It’s an intriguing concept; the audience (or ‘players’) take control of the navigation, so the performance length, what you see, and what order you see it in, are ultimately decided by you.
Set in ‘Quest Camp’ in 1971, the mission is to find Captain Jenny’s lost ‘magic whistle’ which keeps everyone in the ‘Freaky Forest’ safe. After Captain Jenny’s introduction, a selection of characters lead you through the forest, introducing themselves one by one. At the end of each short scene, you’re presented with a choice of two options for the next path to take. If you choose wrongly, you’ll find yourself in Cosmic Space faced with a chatty cloud who informs you, in an annoyingly cheerful manner, that your game is over. Not to worry though, as you’re more than welcome to play again. And again!
Throughout Select a Quest, the performers’ abilities to create an audience connection through the camera are admirable, and especially necessary for maintaining focus of young viewers. A vivid array of characterisation is provided by a dynamic cast. Harry Humberstone, clad in tinfoil, is delightfully exuberant as ‘Zethrog from Planet Sarkeesian’, whilst Timothy O’Hara’s muted yet expressive interpretation as ‘Cloud’ is oddly captivating.
A few of the witty comments may be slightly over the heads of younger viewers, but the colourful and animated performances can be universally enjoyed. Whilst it’s mostly light hearted fun, the more sensitive may find some parts disturbing; the ghost revealing a nail-impaled finger is rather sinister.
Select a Quest is a clever interpretation of theatre and surprisingly addictive; the desire to solve the mystery could potentially keep youngsters entertained for some time. It’s aimed at children 6+, but that’s not to say a more mature viewer wouldn’t enjoy it too! The benefits of virtual theatre are made full use of, providing a fun opportunity to escape the real world and travel to a new, even more peculiar, one!