Thursday, 18 July 2013

Knightmare Live at The Myddleton Arms.

Treguard places the helmet of justice on the dungeoneer.
If you are a child of the 80s/ early 90s, then you probably remember the CITV gameshow, Knightmare. The show revolved around a team of children, aged from around eleven to about sixteen, who entered the dungeon in order to take part in a quest set by the dungeon master, Tregaurd. The chosen dungeoneer amongst the team would be forced to wear the helmet of justice which left them unable to see, meaning that the other three team members would need to act as the dungeoneer's eyes and guide them through the dungeon's various obstacles with basic commands. Side-step left, anyone?

A scene from the classic CITV show.
I think it's fair to say that my brother and I were mildly obsessed with Knightmare. I can vividly remember the excitement of coming home from school and sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the television, utterly spellbound by the fate of the latest dungeoneer. It was a show that I longed to be on, although I was never sure if I wanted to be wearing the helmet of  justice or acting as a team member who was able to see events as they unfolded. Myself, my brother and our friends have long waxed lyrical about our memories of Knightmare and often wished the format would be revived, so when I heard about a live version being produced for the Edinburgh Fringe, I knew what my quest was and I didn't need a helmet of justice to achieve it. I had to get to Edinburgh.

As luck would have it, it turned out that I didn't need to travel so far after all. After some more research, I discovered that the team behind the live show were putting on a preview show in London. I bought myself a ticket as soon as they became available and I couldn't have been happier had I found the Shield of Justice. So it was that I found myself in a pub garden in North London last night, watching a grown man in a horned helmet and carrying a knapsack face the villainous Lord Fear.

Clever prop and dungeoneer "in a room."
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect since much of the TV series relied on computer generated imagery, how can you have a dungeoneer drop into a pit for instance? Answer: You can't. But it turns out it's pretty amazing how many of the iconic Knightmare moments you can recreate simply by putting a few props together and asking the audience to use their imaginations. Of course, a lot of the credit must also go to the cast, who really knew just how to pitch things with a mixture of humour and faithfulness to the original format.

I laughed so much it hurt, yet I was still hugely impressed by the clever staging and inventive props. The wave of nostalgia made me smile all through the night and it was obvious that the cast felt just as strongly about this beloved childhood memory as those of us in the audience. The goblin had me in stitches and Lord Fear and Treguard were outstanding, particularly when you consider what a massive feat it is for any actor to take over the roles that belonged to Mark Knight and Hugo Myatt.

The helmet of justice!
For anyone off to this year's Edinburgh Festival, Knightmare Live is an absolute treat. In fact, I'm considering making the journey just to see the finished product. Book your tickets now!

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