Patchy but enjoyable nostalgic throwback
This article is from 2013.
Full disclosure: I was an avid watcher of Knightmare in my youth; am a follower of the official Facebook group; bought Fringe tickets as soon as a stage adaptation was announced; and contributed to the production’s Kickstarter funding campaign, earning a place in the Helmet of Justice on the opening weekend, from which vantage point I wrote a first-person feature for this very publication.
The reason I bring it up – aside from acknowledging how giddy I was before that first outing – is to explain the context in which I reviewed the show; ie, as someone who had already taken part in it (albeit encased within the Helmet of Justice). With that in mind, I can assert that Knightmare Live!, while being both consistently true to the spirit of the original fantasy TV series and warmly accommodating to anyone who might not be familiar to it, is dependent on the quality of its guests for total success. On the day I occupied the Helmet, the people tasked with guiding me through the Knightmare dungeon were stand-ups Jessica Foteskew and Matthew Highton: both highly competent and very funny quick comedic thinkers and, especially in Highton’s case, even bigger Knightmare fans than myself. On the day I was reviewing the show, the guest slots were occupied by comedic actors Tom Turner and Marny Godden of The Grandees – very fine theatrical talents perhaps, but less blessed with the sharp ad lib skills required to help the show zip by.
That gripe aside, the show is nigh-on impeccable: performers Paul Flannery (who takes the role of mock-heroic Treguard), Tom Bell (a deliciously evil Lord Fear) and Amee Smith (assorted wenches) evidently have heaps of affection for the source material, and the heightened atmosphere of mild peril that made the TV series such compulsory viewing in the early 90s lives on beneath a faint whiff of ironic detachment. Lavish attention has been dedicated to some large-scale practical effects; without giving too much away, you should keep an eye out for the Wall of Riddles and the Room (formerly Corridor) of Blades.
For fans of the original TV series then, Knightmare Live! is essential Fringe viewing, and fully deserving of an extra star. If you perhaps only vaguely remember it (if at all), it might be worth checking who’s in the guest slots before embarking on your quest.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 25 Aug (not 14), 5.30pm, £10.50–£11.50 (£9.50–£10.50).