Warning, Team! Nostalgia!
If you are a British fantasy fan who grew up in the ‘90s, chances are that you watched ITV’s ground-breaking kids’ TV game show, Knightmare. There’s even a good chance you wanted to be on it. Created in the days before immersive computers graphics, the hit show sent teens on an epic quest against a variety of goblins, jesters, talking walls and dragons. All of this was done on a budget and relied on the one of the contestants wearing a vision reducing helmet, with their friends guiding them from encounter to encounter. Knightmare had a plot and its own world building, but the main reason we tuned in every week was to be wowed by the crude CGI and see if anyone could actually win the game (very few people did!).
Knightmare Live Level 2 is stage production based on that show. It puts a helmet on a volunteer and then two local comedians guide said adventurer around the stage. All the characters from the TV show are played by younger actors, who are there to mine the material for as many laughs from the premise as possible. Paul Flannery takes up the role of the dungeon master Treguard, originally played by Hugo Myatt. Flannery performs a perfect mix of spot-on mimicry of Myatt’s scenery-chewing with knowing sarcasm. Each cliché and catchphrase from the show is milked for laughs, in a lightly mocking but also respectful manner, taking the audience back to their youth and also providing laughs along the way. Tom Bell turns out a great performance as the high-camp villain Lord Fear, and the rest of the cast do a sterling job with populating the stage with various goblins and beasties. Jessica Fostekew is especially skilled at playing the slightly more sardonic characters from the show.
Because the show relies on random elements (the audience, the adventurer, the guest comedians), each production is a little different and it’s clear that the main cast are very skilled improvisers with sharp wits. Knightmare Live Level 2 has a solid (and deeply silly) plot running throughout, but the real humour comes from the spontaneous moments of comedy that allow the audience to become part of the fun. Those unfamiliar with the original show are also well catered for, with just enough information handed out so those who don’t know their cup from their chalice will also have a good time. Catch Knightmare Live Level 2 whilst it’s still around; you may never have another chance again to get sucked into the world of Knightmare.
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