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Someone else's shoes
Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Promotional Image

4 stars

The Old Market (venue website)
10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26, 31 May, 2 Jun, 5:30pm-6:30pm, 7:00pm-8:00pm, 8:30pm-9:30pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

Here’s a creative, funny, upbeat gem of a show – a show which you, the audience, very much help to put on. The setup’s simple enough: present yourself to the box office at The Old Market and wait to be collected by a slightly officious “tour guide”, who kits you out with an MP3 player and despatches you on a guided walk round Hove. But that’s just the jumping-off point for a wacky, wonderful hour of tomfoolery, which sees you play a pivotal role in a comedic tale of mystery.

I really enjoyed the ice-breaking audio tour, with a sweetly bumbling voice in my ear highlighting the variety of the area’s chimneys, before solicitously advising me that a no-entry sign only applied to cars.  You could have made a whole show out of that character, and I think I’d have rather liked it.  But soon, something happened – of course something happened – and I found myself thrown into an all-new narrative, racing around the streets of historic Hove with a man who’s searching for truths about his own past.

Following our newly-found guide at a brisk clip around the sea-front and side-streets, we uncovered messages, decoded riddles, and even donned blue plastic gloves to search for evidence in a packing crate.  All the time we were exhorted to scribble down clues, and occasionally we hid from enemy agents (disguises for the purpose were provided).  The whole thing felt a little bit like Treasure Hunt crossed with The Crystal Maze, and occasionally I wished I’d had more time to savour the experience before we swiftly bustled on.  But the interactivity was well-judged: everyone in the group had tasks to complete, the missions were playful but not overly embarrassing, and we all had a role to play in cracking the mystery on the way to the final showdown.

But this is where reviewing gets a bit difficult.  You see, I only really experienced a third of this play; there are three separate stories, depending on which of the purported tour groups you’ve been assigned to at the start.  The groups do meet up again at the end, and the storylines come together in a sense, but I have to admit I have my doubts about this gambit.  It was fun to chat with the other groups after the end of the show, but I left with a slight sense of a party I hadn’t been invited to – a regret that I hadn’t experienced all that Trailblaze had to offer.

It all gets a bit formless towards the end, and it must be said that there’s nothing truly ground-breaking or innovative happening here; it’s more about fun than artistry.  But it is fun, a lot of fun, provided that you’re willing to get into the spirit of it all.  And you even learn a few genuinely-interesting facts about Hove along the way.  It’s a shame I had another show to go to right after this one – I’d happily have paid good money to do the whole thing all over again.

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