Al Mur­ray to tour for an­niver­sary

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

CHAR­LIE Brooker, the acer­bic news­pa­per colum­nist turned acer­bic tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter, is a com­puter games geek.

A man in his for­ties, who plays ‘first per­son games’ on con­soles like the X Box – it all seems a bit sad, right? To think so is to fail to un­der­stand where these first per­son games be­gan. The pro­gen­i­tor was a phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful se­ries of books that sold 250 mil­lion around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

Their tagline was: You’re the Star of the Story! Many people who read them will re­mem­ber the thrill of be­ing given op­tions at each turn­ing point of the story , craft­ing the tale for yourself as you went along. Nathan Pen­ling­ton re­mem­bers the thrill well.

Grow­ing up in the eight­ies, he was a CYOA ob­ses­sive. We all were. Re­vis­it­ing some of the books as an adult, he came across some­thing un­usual and his lit­er­ary imag­in­ings thrust them­selves into his ev­ery­day world. “A diary just dropped out of the book. It had been writ­ten by a child, 20 years ago, some­one who was prob­a­bly the same age as me, mid to late thir­ties,” says Pen­ling­ton. “The diary was full of these sto­ries about how who­ever had writ­ten it had done in­cred­i­ble things.”

Per­haps it was the mind­set he was in, given that he was read­ing a book which de­manded ad­ven­ture, or per­haps it is sim­ply some­thing about Pen­ling­ton: ei­ther way, he had to find the diary’s au­thor. He had a name – Terrence Prendergast – and not much else. A writer, poet and film­maker, Pen­ling­ton en­listed the help of some kin­dred spir­its, ex­plained what he had found and the ad­ven­ture he was about to em­bark upon.

The film­maker friends jumped on board and Choose Your Own Ad­ven­ture be­came Choose Your Own Doc­u­men­tary, the story of how Pen­ling­ton set about track­ing down the mys­tery boy who se­creted his diary in the pages of a chil­dren’s book.

The doc­u­men­tary, which is be­ing screened at New York’s Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val, has also been turned into a stage show, which is com­ing to Har­ro­gate Theatre next month.

“It could be a very short show. The au­di­ence chooses how the show hap­pens, what I do, what de­ci­sions I make. At the very be­gin­ning I ex­plain how I found the diary and then give them the op­tion to ei­ther have me try find Terrence Prendergast or not. If they choose not to, it will be an early night for ev­ery­one,” says Pen­ling­ton.

That hasn’t hap­pened yet. What ac­tu­ally hap­pens in the show, a hit at last year’s Ed­in­burgh fes­ti­val, is that the au­di­ence go on the jour­ney. Each au­di­ence mem­ber is given a key­pad and they can choose the next step of the ad­ven­ture, just as they do in the books, and fol­low Pen­ling­ton on the jour­ney which, cru­cially, they send him on.

“There are 1,566 dif­fer­ent ver­sions of this show and it changes ev­ery night, depend­ing on the choices the au­di­ence makes,” says Pen­ling­ton. “It makes for a show where the au­di­ence are gen­uinely in­vested, they re­ally do buy in to the story.”

It’s about more than that though.

“People come and talk to me about the choices they have made – about choos­ing to be with one per­son in­stead of their true sweet­heart, about choos­ing to stay in a job they don’t love,” says Pen­ling­ton. “It’s a show about mak­ing us look at the choices we make and un­der­stand­ing why.”

Choose Your Own Doc­u­men­tary, Har­ro­gate Theatre, May 16. 01423 502116. CO­ME­DIAN Al Mur­ray will be tak­ing his pub land­lord char­ac­ter to York.

20 years ago Al Mur­ray brought The Pub Land­lord into the world and ever since he has wowed au­di­ences with the land­lord’s own opin­ions on life.

And to cel­e­brate this mile­stone he will go on tour with his new show One Man. One Gu­vnor.

Tick­ets are now on sale and you can see him at the Grand Opera House in York on Novem­ber 16. For tick­ets call the Box Of­fice on 0844 871 3024 or visit: www.at­g­ti­ock­ets.com/ york.

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