The University of Wonder & Imagination – Theatre Review
Full list of cast and creatives available here.
Once you buy a ticket, you’ll receive an email with a link to a Zoom meeting. This meeting will entitle you and your family to travel to the “University of Wonder & Imagination”. There you will meet various professors who will take you on a mystery tour, performing amazing magic tricks and a few songs. The full performance is interactive and the teachers will go to each member of the audience to get random numbers, shapes and other elements that form the basis of the act. One professor performs tricks with numbers, another shows you the planets of our solar system and beyond. The final professor teaches art and shows the audience some dazzling images and will also amaze you with his prediction skills. It all takes place over the course of an hour and in the comfort of your own home!
This is a new interactive online experience by Cahoots NI, the Belfast based theatre company who produce “boldly innovative work for children and their families”. The production is very much suited to the ‘new normal’ and allows the audience to enjoy it from their own homes. One of the failings of many online happenings is that the audience becomes detached from the experience and are not immersed in the world as they would be in a theatre. The interactive nature of this production means the audience is drawn into the event.
The production is surprisingly slick and incorporates a number of green screen and computer-generated images that would rival any children’s TV show. While the magic tricks were nothing you hadn’t seen before on shows like ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, the production is about the overall spectacle rather than magic. The cast is a nice mix of earnest and fun individuals and their quick wit and charm generate many of the laughs.
There is always an element of fear and apprehension with this style of theatre. You’re not sure how it will work or what level of interaction is required with the cast. The demands on the audience members are minimal and seeing as there is only a small audience at each production, there is little fear of embarrassing yourself! I watched the production with my niece and nephew and initially they were worried about interacting with the actors and asked for our camera to be turned off, but once they realised they were potentially missing out, the situation was quickly rectified and they were shouting and laughing at the screen! During a lockdown, it is difficult for parents to come up with methods to keep their children amused or entertained. Productions such as this are an ideal solution and provide a fun, family-orientated experience.