Pins and Needles, Olivier Award Winning Theatre Company, have created Select a Quest over 72 hours in lockdown. Aimed at children aged 6+ we are immersed in a Freaky Forest looking for a lost whistle. The art work surrounding our scenes is absolutely beautiful and the small animations that set our location really capture the feel of a childhood adventure story book. This, however, is where the amazement ends.
We meet a plethora of characters from a Troll under the bridge to Bigfoot, a cannibal flight attendant and a man-eating plant. These characters talk to us, the adventurer, and encourage us to make a choice which will lead us one of two ways. The costumes of these characters, whilst a bit silly, feed into the quirkiness of the idea and I can imagine would be riotous for the younger viewer – I particularly enjoy the quite sinister cloud who looks as if he’d recently been pied at a village fete. However, owing to the 72 hour timeframe I feel the dialogue of these characters is rather variable in quality with a script feeling decidedly unedited and with a significant first draft energy.
I understand that this was a 72 hour project, however, I feel that even just an extra 24 hours to review some of the writing would have been a strong step towards making a better quality piece of work. I also feel that the direction of the story was not really thought through. For example, I refuse to give the troll my shoes and suddenly I’m on a spaceship. The links are very weak, and this continues as an issue throughout this piece. The only link that I felt make sense (on my journey, each is very individual) was when I got on a rope swing which they said was dangerous and then I died. I felt this was fair but the option to go back to camp seemed a bit pathetic, and embracing my inner child I felt I had to do something revolutionary to get the lost whistle.
Overall, I feel that this project was hampered by its commitment to a 72 hour timeframe which left it a bit jumbled, unclear and, to be quite frank, amateur. I wanted to enjoy it, but this for me was let down by a weak script and was too reliant on the option picking format a la Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch. Yet, with a successful ‘pick-your-own-adventure’ format you need the choices to link to the next scene and, in the best of the bunch, the next choices.
Perhaps as a 6 year old this would be a good way to while away an afternoon out of the classroom, but as an adult and representative of the theoretical parent, I was unimpressed.
Select a Quest is available to watch free online at the Select A Quest website.