You’ve heard of Choose Your Own Adventure books, but have you ever seen a pick-your-own-adventure play? The Juice Factory have taken it upon themselves to provide us with exactly that experience, presenting an interactive play in which the audience gets to decide what happens next. It’s a very enticing concept, but does it work?
For the most part: yes. Armed with a black and red Ping-Pong bat and guided by a narrator, the audience can vote for a multitude of things for the duration of the play. From deciding what each of the five characters will wear to who will enter the pub first to whether or not two characters should kiss: we have a say on many matters that shape the story.
Or do they? For in the end, the plot seems pretty linear. Do the things we decide actually matter, or was the ending pre-destined all along? It’s one of the questions the narrator throws in the air towards the end of the play, putting these themes of fate and agency in the context of our own lives.
But if the outcome is indeed pre-destined, why and on what we are voting? The main problem with this play lies not in the execution of its concept, but its narrative. The story of five estranged high school friends rekindling connections from the past while searching for their sixth companion is just a little too mundane to get us truly invested. There is a slight lack of urgency in the plot, resulting in what feels like audience members deliberately voting for ‘bad’ options at times. While this definitely leads to funny moments, it also signifies a certain level of apathy towards the characters.
It doesn’t help that the storyline itself is a little confusing. From a certain point onwards, scenes from the past are being merged with the present. While interesting, these increasingly blurred lines also make one feel a little overly disoriented at times. It’s sometimes hard to determine whether the characters are talking in the past or the present, which can make the voting decision difficult.
Overall, The Time Capsule is a light-hearted play about old friendships and new beginnings, with some darker notes thrown in. There’s plenty of humour, relatable reunion drama and ‘90s nostalgia, but there are also some touching moments and heavier themes. Although it lacks a little depth and leans slightly too much on the voting gimmick, this is a one-of-a-kind play that guarantees a different and fun show every night. And that’s certainly a feat worth seeing.
The Time Capsule is playing at the Landor Space until July 29. For more information and tickets, click here.
Photo: Landor Space website