Welcome, watchers of illusions, to a review that shall dispel your confusion. Based on the esteemed television show that ran on CITV from 1987 to 1994, Knightmare Live pits our brave audience/dungeoneers against the wits and puzzles of an evil Lord. This loving and hilarious reproduction of the classic show delicately walks the line between parody and homage and will bring smiles to the faces of those who watched the show back in the day.
Knightmare Live is a real celebration
The stage is set with a large screen with two castle doors either side. Tables are set up and ‘artefacts’ are gathered from the audience by fun, stagehand-goblins. Next, in strides Treguard (Paul Flannery) to thunderous applause before he even needs to do anything. The audience is packed with (perhaps tipsy) nerds who are ready and waiting to chuckle, reminiscing about their formative years. One lucky audience member then dons the Helmet of Justice (big cheer) and the Knapsack of Carrying Bananas (bigger cheer). This production has acquired original animations from the show and the props looks fantastic.
What ensues is, honestly, a hilarious dungeon adventure. The Helmet of Justice blinds its wearer who is then guided through puzzles involving gigantic buzz-saws, dragons and deadliest of all, word puzzles. This quickly descends into pantomime as the audience calls back and forth between their brave dungeoneer (assisting him from a nearby table) and other cast members. This all could have come across as a chaotic mess, but Flannery is masterful at handling both the crowd and the events occurring on stage. He is capable of quickly controlling situations and making the audience laugh whether things go right or wrong. This play has evolved over the years and the puzzles continue to develop and change so for those who may have seen it before the improvisational style, audience participation and different puzzles keep the show fresh. True to the original show's incredible difficulty, no-one managed to defeat the evil Lord Fear (Richard Soames) and his deadly dungeons, but they did get a great certificate for trying.
It goes without saying that Knightmare Live is show for fans. It is dripping with nostalgia and if you have no experience with this 80s' kids show you will be left very confused. Then again, why would there be non-Knightmare fans attending? After all, you don’t go to a Michael Jackson tribute experience having no idea who Michael Jackson is. Knightmare Live is a real celebration. If you were a fan of the original show you will laugh along and shout all the catchphrases. If you were not, there is still fun to be had here, but it will be an incredibly strange experience. However, you can still cheer and boo for every spell, failure and death-defying escape. It's fantastic, cheesy fun for the dungeoneer inside us all!