We are all, surely, familiar with the phenomenon of the choose your own adventure novel. If you will not admit to having read one, even in your youth, then you will know somebody who has. It is remarkable how far a relatively small number of choices could make a reader feel in control of a story before the advent of computer games. They were a truly brilliant publishing decision from a glorious past age of fantasy roleplay.
This was not the first evening I have found myself singing the Cornish national anthem to a room full of people, but the only time that a quest has depended upon it.
Choose Your Own Comedy Adventure is not an excuse for nerd nostalgia so much as a very silly bit of boozy late-night fun. By means of a beachball of destiny and some loosely marshalled shouting, the audience determines the gender, occupation and accent of their avatar before being launched on an adventure with a genre of their choice, played out by joyfully unconvincing paper cut-outs on a projector screen. The whole ridiculous exercise is overseen by stand-up Barry Ferns (The Barry Experience) and stage-managed by comedian and filmmaker Alasdair Beckett-King, who looms like a well-spoken flame-haired Viking bard behind his laptop. He also provides the voices, which with a late-night audience and some encouragement from Ferns can turn out a fair bit more challenging than for your average improv show. I do not want to spoil any of the duo’s exquisitely bizarre character options, but I do not think it would be giving too much away to say that when I attended, our heroine ‘Hey Zeus!’ spoke with the accent of a Scouse Martian.
The whole thing is completely silly but controlled and driven forward brilliantly by the hosts: even in the face of an unprecedented projector malfunction, which ought to have spelled complete disaster, they simply ploughed on, upholding the energy and the fun throughout. One cannot help but get involved, especially if one has made appropriate use of the well-stocked bar of the Blind Poet pub downstairs. This was not the first evening I have found myself singing the Cornish national anthem to a room full of people, but the only time that a quest has depended upon it. If you are out with friends at 11.15 and you fancy a bit of slightly blurred entertainment, you could do little better than to weave along to the Counting House and choose your own comedy adventure.