Review: Curse of the Crackles! Shoreditch Town Hall (online)

Let’s face it, we’ve all had a pretty tough year, but children have had a pretty unsettling time over the last 12 months, what with home schooling and not being able to see their friends. Thankfully Shoreditch Town Hall has come to the rescue in a bid to lift their spirits with the world premiere of digital production Curse of the Crackles!

Written by Bea Roberts, this interactive audio adventure for children and families features innovative immersive sound technology by Ben and Max Ringham and associate sound and composition from Nicola Chang. The set-up is simple – all you have to do is plug in your earphones, find a quiet space and close your eyes (or use the eye mask included in the accompanying activity pack), and then you’re instantly transported to another world where the naughty Crackles have muddled up all of the sounds in the universe. As a result of their meddling ways, the tennis at Wimbledon sounds like a meowing cat, while Ariana Grande’s singing sounds more like a quacking duck. It’s up to the listeners to join forces with Riff, the most excellentist puppy, to restore the sounds to where they belong.  

During this 45-minute adventure listeners encounter a number of characters, including a swarm of talking bees, pirates and their shipmate Deidre, and even the Queen herself. Norah Lopez Holden and Sam Swann do a fine job of voicing the many weird and wonderful characters and together they inject a lot of humour into the piece. 

Although Curse of the Crackles! is aimed at 7-11 year olds, the production is fun for the whole family. There’s enough silliness, not to mention fart jokes, to appeal to younger listeners, while there are also plenty of jokes to entertain adults, from a sketch involving bees all called Neville that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Monty Python sketch, to a bunch of pirates singing a rendition of TLC’s No Scrubs. 

Director Ed Stambollouian ensures that this is a fast-paced and exciting adventure that will keep children engaged throughout. This is an interactive experience, with listeners encouraged to get up and move as they help Riff create portals to track down the out of place sounds. The sound effects are incredibly clever and creative, and you really do feel like you’re on a little adventure. 

A magical production packed full of mayhem, The Curse of the Crackles! is an audio adventure unlike any other, and is sure to give children a much-needed distraction while encouraging them to use their imagination. If you’re searching for a way to entertain your kids this Easter break, look no further. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Curse of the Crackles! is available from Shoreditch Town Hall until 11th April.  

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