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Anarchy for children? Sign me up.
That’s pretty much what went through my mind when I first heard of The Anarchist’s Mobile Library, Tessa Bide Productions’ digital, interactive adventure aimed at kids aged 6 – 11.
With this part game, part story, part choose-your-own-adventure experience, Tessa Bide Productions hopes to put kids in the driver’s seats, giving them the opportunity to decide on their own narrative destinies.
There are three digital versions: a BSL version (in which David Ellington’s performance looks positively enthralling), a Welsh language version (performed by Gareth Bale) and an English language version. I watched the latter, performed by Bide herself as some sort of cat/duck pilot creature. The BSL version comes with subtitles and, in terms of further accessibility, it may have been a good shout to include subtitles as an option for the other two performance options as well, especially as there is a lot of static time within the animation.
But the lack of subtitles isn’t much of a detriment. Bide’s vocal performance is clear and engaging, perfectly equipped to keep her young audience onboard for the entire ride, and David Rock’s animation is simple and charming. Throughout the experience, Bide gives her trainees tasks to do and props around the house to find which encourages those playing along at home to stay plugged into the show the whole way through.
The game is split up into six sections that can be chosen in whichever order the participants like; each section has a trivia question and a “tough choice” to make which decides the direction of that adventure. The sections are well-timed, and the audience can choose to play all six back-to-back, to take a break between sections, or even to pause mid-section, and that flexibility is invaluable.
Travel back in time; blast off into space; explore the deep, blue sea; tell a joke to a witch; become the ruler of a realm: The Anarchist’s Mobile Library packs worlds worth of exploration and entertainment into a relatively compact parcel.
Alongside the silly movements and fantasy excursions, the show also manages to explore more poignant morals, like the importance of sticking up for others, or not judging people by their looks.
With the digital version, there is even access to an additional education pack that parents and teachers can use to enhance the experience for their young participants. The Anarchist’s Mobile Library is a fun, engaging adventure, sure to be a hit with its target audience. And the script is witty and cohesive enough to be enjoyed by their older companions as well.
The Anarchist’s Mobile Library is now available to stream. Find out more about the digital (AND live) versions at Tessa Bide productions online.