Review: The Noisy Isle, Living Record Festival
5.0Overall Score

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This Noisy Isle is a dynamic interactive audio series for children aged 7 to 11, based on the characters of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with a strong focus on imagination and creativity. Originally performed in 2019 as a live immersive treasure hunt for children, the show has been adapted for lockdown audiences with an accompanying activity pack to keep children engaged and inspired as the characters lead them through their journey on the island.

After a brief audio explanation of how we came to be on this strange new island, the first four tracks (all ranging between about five and ten minutes long) introduce us to the characters of the island: Miranda, Caliban, Prospero and Ariel.

Each character helps us participate with them in an activity to understand more about the island and to continue our journey onward. These activities involve using imagination, call and response, building, dressing up, and all-round creativity to design the island in our minds eye. Each character is vividly vocalised by Violet Ryder, differentiated from each other with strong characterisation to give them a virtual presence as we listen to their story.

Whilst each track is led by a single character, there are a couple of instances where Ryder is challenged to perform with herself, snapping from husky tones to light and airy in the blink of an eye. Superbly directed by Ross Drury, Ryder’s quirky island inhabitants are entertaining and personable — combined with the sound design by Chris Drohan, they invite the audience on an auditory exploration as they inspire response through shouts into the empty space around us.

The remaining audio tracks, all prefixed ‘Story Pack’, delve deeper into some of the moments of the island with more emphasis on performer led storytelling than interaction. The first track which stands out for me is From Fire to Ice, which gives us an insight into the story of the original kingdom from which we fled. Through letters between the King of Fire and the Queen of Ice, we listen as their contest escalates into the climax of catastrophe which caused us to flee and begin our journey. The narrative of this audio is very much akin with how a performer might prepare a character: writing imaginary letters to flesh out the background of the scene and their circumstances and I find that very intriguing.

The second track which captures my imagination with ferocity is titled Waves and explores the journey in the ship from the old kingdom to This Noisy Isle. This piece sets a more mature tone than the other tracks and really fleshes out some of the themes and ideas of the performance and its source material.

Although it is based around the themes and characters of one of Shakespeare’s best-known works, This Noisy Isle requires no knowledge of the original text to fully appreciate the performance. In doing so, it creates a friendly and approachable setting in which to pique the interest of a younger audience and inspire interaction with a much-loved classical text.

This Noisy Isle is streaming online until 19 February 2021. For more information and to book tickets, visit Living Record Festival online.