Writer: Nathan Penlington
Filmmakers: Fernando R Gutierrez De Jesus, Nick Watson, Sam Smaïl
Reviewer: Rosie Revell
It is quite hard to try to review a show that has no less than 1566 different endings, but this is the task in hand when it comes to Choose Your Own Documentary. At first glance the show seems to be an indulgent adult nostalgic foray into childhood obsession, namely the 1980’s literary phenomenon the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but it is much more than that. Easy going part geek part protagonist writer/ performer Nathan Penlington has woven a smart and endearing show that pays tribute to hope, after troubled childhoods, that becomes an epic quest.
Penlington is catapulted into this quest when he buys numbers one to one hundred and six of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from eBay. While flicking through one he comes across the teenage diary of original owner, Terence Prendergast, whose teenage angst mirrors his own. Penlington becomes obsessed with finding Terence to check he is okay. Here is the twist in the show, Penlington has filmed the quest with a team of filmmakers; Fernando R Gutierrez De Jesus, Nick Watson, Sam Smaïl and together they have made the quest like a Choose Your own Adventure book but bringing it up to date using wireless remote controls and audience participation. The fate of the protagonist, and the entire show itself is literally in the audience’s hands with multiple paths, and possible endings and Penlington urges everyone to “Choose Wisely.” He warns that a wrong decision could end the show “quickly and horribly.” To reveal any more would spoil such an original and enjoyable concept.
Every night the show is different and despite the obvious gimmickry there is real heart and intelligence to the show. Every possible outcome has been conceived, considered and filmed. Terence’s and by reflection Penlington’s, story is compelling and keeps the show zipping along at a good pace. A unique and different show that is well worth catching again and again.
Reviewed on: 16th May 2014