Kids theatre: Quest for Oz
- David Pollock
- 9 October 2018
Vision Mechanics' interactive night-time event blends a lightshow, games and one-to-one performances in the woods
After the success of last year's fantastical Dragons of Drummohr, this year's show is a take on the Wizard of Oz which tasks visitors with gathering up bricks to rebuild the Yellow Brick Road.
The physical design of Quest for Oz, is outstanding, with wooded glades glowing with magical lights amid the darkness, a rainbow-patterned perspex tunnel drawing us into the adventure, and a maze of fabric walls which give the impression of our companions becoming ghosts who we run alongside.
The characters we meet along the way are all evocative and well-realised, from the friendly witch whose dress is made of bubbles to the bearded trader selling potions and reading fortunes and the lady in the beauty parlour who paints faces in return for a few bricks. The popcorn vendor's funfair game of throwing rings onto a unicorn's horn is also a favourite with children.
The outstanding realisation of the physical elements, however, can't quite make up for the slightly frustrating interaction. The production has been gamified through the development of an app, which visitors are asked to download to their device before arrival (you'll want to clear some digital space, because it's huge), and which allows us to collect virtual bricks and see virtual creatures through our cameras.
However, the camera function within the app is slow and unwieldy, and – as far as we and others travelling with us eventually figured out – navigating out of the app to use your phone's camera, then returning to hit 'restart', means your brick total is wiped and you're unable to pick up more [EDIT 10/10/18: we're told Vision Mechanics have taken on the feedback and fixed the issues mentioned here with the app].
There is also a sense of anti-climax about seeing the Wizard (another impressive design set-piece) at the beginning of the show rather than the end, especially having 'lost' the game by returning with no bricks. It's important to point out that the thought and design that has gone into making this an enjoyable immersive experience for both adults and children is exceptional, and it's well worth enjoying on these terms; but for now, a couple of glitches in the execution means it's not as streamlined as it could be.
Reviewed at Drummohr House, Musselburgh