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Knightmare Live (Edinburgh Fringe): Review

knightmare live

A riotous homage to a much loved children’s TV institution, Knightmare Live is a laugh out loud show of roaring epicness.


Join Tregaurd as he requires a chosen one for his quest. Two guest comedians will guide the chosen one, made blind by the Helmet of Justice, through the dungeons of Lord Fear.

Concept

Born in the 1980s and growing up in 1990s, Knightmare was undoubtedly my favourite TV show. Using blue-screen technology and computer generated environments, it was groundbreaking in both terms of digital achievement and format for children’s television. Alas, all things must come to an end, and Knightmare ceased production in 1994. However, improviser Paul Flannery, a huge fan of the series himself, decided to revive the spirit of Knightmare by putting together Knightmare Live: a comic improvised on-stage homage to the show, and the world is a better place for it.

All the key elements from the show are there: the helmet of justice, strange (and badly costumed) characters, riddles, obstacles, moral conundrums, and spinning blades. These are played out with great bouts of physical humour, ingenuity, and improvisation too, making it a really fun recreation of the TV show.

And that’s what it is: fun. It’s stupendously silly at times, but Knightmare Live is never mocking of Knightmare; it’s an incredibly affectionate tribute. The dynamic of the improvisation elements and the banter of the two comedians directing the volunteer audience member ensure that the laughs are large and loud. But even so, there’s a very tight structure and game progression here, meaning that there is little to derail Knightmare Live and become so meandering, like some other improvisation shows, that you lose focus. It’s a tight and pacey jaunt that’s as engrossing as it is outlandish.

Direction & Production

There is a great amount of production behind Knightmare Live, even if it is fantastically low-fi. Flannery’s backdrop that, under different coloured lights, reveals different pieces of scenery. It’s very basic but incredibly effective, and a wonderful nod to the retro-tech genius of the original show. Then there are wonderful other props that are as fun as they are impressive, such as the spinning blades, and although the costumes aren’t exactly the height of costuming, they absolutely conjure the look and feel of the TV series with effortless ease.

Cast

Flannery leads an exceptional improvisation cast. Even though Flannery has an amazing presence, capturing the essence of the original Tregaurd (who was played by Hugo Myatt), it really is a team effort. They bounce fun and piff around the place like a rubber ball, and the laughs ricochet around the room with abandon. They know exactly how to get the best comedy out of each other, making Knightmare Live a sensationally hilarious show. Even if the chosen one is a bit uncooperative, or the guest comedians not as sharp as they could be, Flannery and his team still manage to make Knightmare Live shake with the bellows the audience’s laughter.

Verdict

Knightmare Live is the Holy Grail of the fringe. Seek it, and ye shall be rewarded with an abundance of hilarious nostalgic bombast. #snazzmatazz

Knightmare Live plays at the Pleasance Dome (venue 23), Edinburgh, EH8 9AL, until 28 August 2016. Tickets are £8.50 – £12 (concessions available). To book, visit tickets.edfringe.com.