‘Make it short & snappy’
Y for You ‘Choose Your Own Documentary’ at Soho Theatre, London.
The heart-warming tale of two men, 106 books, 1 audience, 1 remote each, 1566 possible outcomes and plenty of laughs, groans and tense bums on seats awaiting with baited breath. All to see if their choices were the right ones to finally discover the real Terence Prendergast.
‘Just the facts please’
- Nathan Penlington
- Website: http://nathanpenlington.com/
- Twitter: @Npenlington
- Uri Geller talking about Nathan
- The Show
- Choose Your Own Documentary website: www.CYOD.co.uk
- Twitter: @CYODoc
- Trailer video
- 106 books
- Bought for the princely sum of £44.01
- 1566 possible endings
- 30 possible cameo characters
- Not enough shows to see all alternatives!
- The book “The Boy in the Book”
- The books the book was based on: Choose Your Own Adventure
- Three reviews I enjoyed reading: Scout London, Plays To See and Amateur Critic
- Soho Theatre
- Website: http://www.sohotheatre.com/
- Twitter: @sohotheatre
- Address: 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE
- Phone: 020 7478 0100
- Also Festival
- Website: http://www.also-festival.com/
- 2015 dates: 19-21 June 2015
- Location: Park Farm, Compton Verney, Warwick CV35 9HJ
- Cost: from £35
‘I’ve got a cup of tea, tell me all about it…’
I chose to start my own journey by visiting Salon London’s Happiness evening event, where I was introduced to three marvellous speakers. One of which was the naturally gifted, slightly nutty storyteller Nathan Penlington, described by Time Out as “a nerdish hybrid of Dave Gorman and Sue Perkins”.
Before I go onto narrate his tale, a quick note on the power duo that are Helen and Juliet. Together they set up Salon London and curate intellectual, thought provoking, fun and thoroughly enjoyable evenings in London. The Salon sessions are a great way to spend an evening deep in discussion making new friends and connections. I met some great friends there and also attended their first festival, the “Also Festival”. I’ll write more on that in another post. Sadly I can’t go this year due to a wedding, but if you are free I strongly recommend it.
Having heard Nathan’s engaging and charismatic presentation at Salon London, my friends and I immediately wanted to go hear more at his show at Soho Theatre. I couldn’t make the same date as them, so went another time with J.
The premise is that Nathan is prone to obsessing, one of his past fixations was with Uri Geller and led to a show where Uri actually attended!
This particular tale was kickstarted when Nathan bought the first 106 books in Edward Packard’s Choose Your Own Adventure series off eBay – a pretty big obsession to start off with, I’d say! Within the books he found a scrap of a diary and annotations from a one Terence Prendergast, a British boy in the midst of his turbulent teens in the ’80s. The notes are tantalisingly cryptic snippets and glimpses into this school, home and love life, but needing more much explanation.
Ensnared in Terence’s world of mystery and the burning desire to get answers, Nathan sets out to discover the truth about his childhood and to find out what became of him.
Part stand up, part documentary, part modern day interactive TV, Nathan joined forces with Fernando R Gutiérrez De Jesus, Sam Smaïl and Nick Watson to film their devoted 18 month adventure.
Back in Soho, the audience were given the Power – imagine a swoosh of elaborate flashing lights in a dramatic Take Me Out style – through their own tiny remote (think “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”) to determine how the story progressed in a true Choose Your Own… books format.
Nathan started his show by introducing us to this world through a whistle stop tour of the books themselves, and their unbelievable twists, turns and endings. My favourite was probably ‘mauled by mutant bears’, but the unbearably sad ‘dying of existential apathy’ ending deserves honourable mention too. Looking back the fact they were real published books predominantly designed for children seems most preposterous. Here are some more odd tales from the series.
Here’s the trailer for Choose Your Own Documentary to give you a taste for Nathan’s style.
Needless to say the audience were truly into the story, each time we had to make a decision there was a tangible thick air of tension in the room which only intensified when the results were revealed. Oh the disappointment and frustration of those whose vote hadn’t won and would never know what would have happened should he have gone to the graphologist to get Terence’s handwriting analysed! Fortunately I was quite content with the general trail of decisions and felt our ending was quite a happy one. I would have loved to have seen them all and would gladly pay for a DVD of the different version, although I think that sadly isn’t on the plan… yet. The book is definitely something I will purchase, and I will be keeping an eye on the endearing and geeky Nathan and what random topic next takes his fancy and fascinates him!