Choose Your Own Documentary by Nathan Penlington (3 stars)

This article is from 2013.

Choose Your Own Documentary by Nathan Penlington

Funny and nostalgic interactive show based on cult 80s books

The Choose Your Own Adventure books were a publishing phenomenon, offering re-readable stories with multiple outcomes and potential death or glory at every page-turn. Writer and performer Nathan Penlington hits on a rich vein of pre-internet nostalgia in this interactive show about his CYOA obsession and there’s a childlike thrill to voting on the course of his story using your personal remote control. But this is not improv; every possible story-route involves video clips and sound cues, and much like in the books there is a ‘best route’ that an audience can take, while some decisions can lead to whole story strands being cut off abruptly. That also results in the interactive element of the show being noticeably lessened in the second half, giving the feeling that Penlington hasn’t fully integrated the show’s form with his storytelling intentions.

Choose Your Own Documentary is best entered without knowing specifics, after a very funny context-setting introduction things go in a direction that is at once more substantial and engaging; Penlington takes us on an adventure that is personal and gently moving.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 26 Aug (not 14), 1.30pm, £9-£11 (£8-£9).

Choose Your Own Documentary By Nathan Penlington

  • 3 stars

CYOD Ltd. A found diary, a film crew and an incredible true story. Inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 1980s, you determine Nathan's fate in a unique interactive experience. Every twist and turn is in your hands. With over 1500 versions and multiple endings, where will the story lead? Who can help…


1. Levon Bø8 Aug 2013, 9:47am Report

Some of these comments are unfair. I have see this show three times, twice in London and once in Edinburgh. The choices we made as an audience resulted in a different and complete story each time. On a personal level I preferred some of the choices we made over others but I didn't feel like there was a 'best route' to take as this review suggests. In my experience of the shows there are so many combinations and routes to take that inevitably some of the choices made by the audience won't reflect your own but it'll make you want to go back and choose again, I loved it!

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