Tuesday, 9 February 2021

REVIEW: This Noisy Isle for the Living Record Festival Online

For my tenth and final visit to the Living Record Festival I tried This Noisy Isle. This online Festival is a wide-ranging mix of content and the website would benefit from a clear classification of what the target audience is for each one, comedy, audio, children, drama etc. The selection I have tried ranged from the bizarre lectures, improv to some very interesting short films. Many of them had the feel of work in progress, content being workshopped or tried out as part of their development. Overall, it has been a satisfying and enjoyable interaction with the Festival. This final piece is an audio only story split into a Prologue and 10 short audio stories. It is not clear what order to listen to them, so we tried them in the order they are on the weblink. The link to the interactive activity pack on the Festival site did not work but we found the three downloadable pages on the producers own site at Spun Glass Theatre.

The story takes its inspiration from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and is set on the tropical island where Prospero was shipwrecked twelve years earlier with his daughter Miranda. The island had been inhabited by the witch Sycrorax who has died but her son Caliban still wanders the island with the spirit Ariel who has also been imprisoned there. The target audience is 7- to 11-year-olds and the production has the feel of a modern Listen with Mother which ran on BBC radio from 1950 to 1982 and which I regularly listed to at that age!

After a short Prologue we meet Miranda who invites us to explore the Island, use the first downloadable page a map of the Island which we are invited to name (but is sadly underused as we listen to the audios) and seek Caliban. Caliban invites us to build a fort and five of the eight-minute track are a ticking clock as we do so. From there we are directed to Prospero (four minutes) a female wizard and asked to do a faux magic trick and stand on the second downloadable page, a sun dial for reasons that were unclear. Next up is meeting Ariel (8 minutes) who suggests we dress up and upload pictures on Instagram and gives us two minutes of ticking clock to do so before inviting us to join in a two-minute call and response song shouting out Bark, Bow-wow, Cock-a-doodle-doo and Ding Dong as a chorus.

The last six audio tracks seem to be by way of backstory to the Island. Waves (8 mins) tells of merfolk, Fire to ice is a series of supposed letters from King of Fire to Queen of Ice, Sycrorax (4 mins) tells of the witch turning pirates into toads, Duke of Milan (4 mins) gives some back story to Miranda, Shipwreck (2.5 minutes) tells of the ship sinking with waves, wind and rain effects and Noisy Isle (6 minutes) a story of Mr Fox and crabs. They needed to be related to each other or the story to make it more logical and interesting.

The reading is voiced by Violet Ryder is a gentle soothing tone with sound design by Chris Drohan and directed by Ross Drury. Each audio is read against an image of pictures from UK of House of Parliament, Stonehenge and the Angel of the North but the connection to these images was lost on me. It is described as an adventure in a strange magical world and was an interesting idea, but the interactivity and narrative were too disjointed and the audio not compelling enough to hold my interest strongly. It needed more production linking the audio tracks, integrating the activity pack and developing the atmospherics of the island.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: £7
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