I’m sure any fringe veteran worth their salt has had the experience of seeing a famous face from their childhood appearing out of an Edinburgh side-street to bring back a flood of nostalgia. It’s a fantastic feeling, that warm sense of remembrance appearing suddenly on a sodden Scottish pavement. (Mine was Dave Benson Philips, by the way. Playbus all the way.)
It’s a feeling that Knightmare Live is designed to take advantage of - a cardboard and MDF recreation of after-school TV when it seemed perfectly natural to stick a bucket over a kid’s head and have his mates try to guide him through a deadly dungeon.
With this in mind, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, though it’s actually a real technical achievement. Every room change necessitates a complete change of scenery and props and some of these, such as the wall demon, are impressively complex. Whilst the constant running around of most of the cast members does interrupt the flow slightly, the set changes are remarkably smooth and any slight awkwardness usually adds to the fun.
Of the cast, Tom Bell as Lord Fear deserves special mention; his gleefully evil banter with Paul Flannery’s Treguard was a highlight of the show and, given that he had to maintain this level of performance whilst also chasing a goblin around the set and shifting flats around makes it all the more impressive. Flannery makes an excellent Dungeon Master and his rapport with the audience serves to cover a great many bumps in the show.
Clearly the live show is heavily reliant on a reasonably acute memory of the TV original. The performance I attended was lucky enough to have the services of a Knightmare superfan in the front row but anybody planning on a trip would be well advised to do a little background YouTube revision. Likewise, the structure of inviting guests from other shows to take part as the contestants means that another large part of the show’s humour depends upon the guests you get.
Knightmare Live is a horrendously silly show but it’s exactly the sort of light relief that can balance out a day at the Fringe. So Enter, Stranger!