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Brilliant Adventures – Royal Exchange Studio, Manchester

Writer: Alistair McDowall

Director: Caroline Steinbeis

Reviewer: Tracey Lowe

[rating:4.5]

Brilliant Adventures - Royal Exchange‘Brilliant Adventures’ was the recipient of the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2011, and Manchester is lucky to the home of the play’s premiere. Straight from the beginning, it is clear to see why this play is award-winning, instantly creating an intriguing world filled with a variety of interesting characters.

Teenager Luke has finally moved away from his older, slightly dubious brother Rob into a place of his own. Despite being a socially awkward, stuttering, high-school dropout, Luke is a genius, and has created a fully operational time machine in his living room. However, when mysterious southerner Ben turns up, and expresses an interest in Luke’s invention, their lives become increasingly complicated, and very dangerous.

‘Brilliant Adventures’ is a quirky little piece. As the audience walks in, dialogue from 80s films such as ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Gremlins’ is played, and the great set is littered with cult movie DVDs and science textbooks. In the opening scene Luke is playing Tetris on an authentic Nintendo Game Boy. But this isn’t a play about pop culture or nostalgia; this is a play about family, loyalty and time travel.

This play also contains one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. Laurence Mitchell, who made a real impression in ‘Winterlong’ at the Royal Exchange two years ago, was very unnerving as the suspicious Ben. He was everything a great bad guy should be; seductive, conniving and terrifying. Robert Lonsdale played Luke with sensitivity, and portrayed his growing confidence extremely well. Michael Hodgson, who played The Man, delivered a monologue at the start of the second half beautifully; the audience were absolutely enraptured.

Alistair McDowall’s script is just superb. The story unravels at a perfect pace, and all the characters are well established. There are some great laughs, as well as some touching scenes and disturbing violence. It also has a fantastic closing scene. ‘Brilliant Adventures’ absolutely lives up to its title.

Photo: Jonathan Keenan

Runs at Royal Exchange Studio until 25th May

 

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