Hidden Track returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Standard:Elite, an award-winning choose-your-own-adventure show with a twist that continues to delight audiences of all ages. Prepare to be drawn into a world where ducks can talk, young princes are sculpted from clouds and little girls are spun from spiders webs - but even in this fantasy, the lines of class and privilege we are familiar with still very much exist.
An accessible and playful discourse around the prevalence of class and discrimination in our society
Standard:Elite is a fairytale narrative with an immersive concept: before taking their seats, all audience members meet our storytellers (Sophie Mackenzie and Elliot Hughes) and roll a die, which dictates where in the space they will sit. ‘Standards’ remain in the usual fold-out seats, whilst the chosen few ‘Elites’ take their place on the specially reserved silver thrones arranged onstage, whereby they are facing the majority of the audience and are referred to by Mackenzie and Hughes for direction on which way the tale should progress. This status quo is subject to change, and I loved watching the variety of ways in which this could happen – either by completing a challenge and ‘earning’ your place, by ousting an 'Elite' from their throne or even (as in my case) thanks to a leg-up from someone on the inside. It’s not a fair system – nor is it foolproof – but that is the point.
In itself, the story is fairly simplistic: a rich boy and a poor girl, from two mysterious lands known as High Ground and Low Ground, embark on a quest to reunite the boy with his family. Along the way, our intrepid duo come across an array of fantastical characters, which give the ensemble a chance to show off their considerable comical strength in over-zealous caricature and entertainingly quick changes. Imaginative use of everyday objects bring a storm to life and rain down cotton wool clouds onto the stage, all ably supported by Joe Brownbridge as a multitalented musical accompaniment.
Where this production comes into its own is the third act, as adventures both inside and outside the fairytale start to come to a head. It’s much more fun at this point if you do choose to get involved, although participation is completely optional throughout. My only concern with seeing this show as a non-participant would be the simplicity of the story for all but the younger members of the audience. However, it is through this simplicity that the focus lands where it needs to be; upon the awkwardness of exactly who is ‘in charge’, and why.
With Standard:Elite, Hidden Track have created an accessible and playful discourse around the prevalence of class and discrimination in our society: this will continue to be a must-see at the Fringe for as long as that remains.