27 August 2021 (released)
27 August 2021
45North and director Jessica Rose McVay should be applauded for this 'choose you own adventure style audio drama on a subject that is unfortunately affecting so many young people in these Covid ridden times. With that in mind it could have been something that either offended or 'missed the mark' if tackled inappropriately or too cautiously. A self selection story with accompanying colourful illustrations could have been just that. But this truly isn't!
Faced with beginning a new day, two sisters Riley and Eliza begin trying to come to terms with a day full of anxiety and despair. Like all good adventures there is a quest to help 'the Maiden' and along the way the listener/viewer has a choice of two paths at the conclusion of each little chapter. Quite often one appearing to be passive and the other following an adventure full of fairy tale beasts trying to thwart their quest. What is clever here is that whatever path you take leads to piling on the drama and the levels of anxiety that the two girls face, be it real or imagined.
Ava Wong Davies cleverly and sensitively plays with that unsettling space between myth and reality and opens up levels of discussion about what someone sees as reality if suffering with anxiety. In a world where we are continually challenged by events that we appear to have no control over, it so good to have the chance to take control, and when required, to go back and retrace our steps. Not to necessarily change the outcome but to learn from that journey. Her writing is superb at doing this and the voices provided by Alice Vilanculo, Witney White, Martina Laird and Sky Yang explore the emotional high s and lows with such strength and clarity.
Tony Gayle's sound is so powerful and tangible, you feel the strength of the dragon of the nastiness of the witch as they try to block the journey, and Laura Frances Heitzman's colourful illustrations add much to the quality and will engage the younger listener more fully.
There is only one moment when a dagger is taken to fight the Dragon, that felt a little awkward. In a world where children carrying knives is a major issue, it needed either supporting more fully in the writing or changing to some other less provocative weapon.
This audio production is something that can be listened to by all ages over nine. And should be watched several times to get the most from all the possible options and help us all question more fully the plight that young people face today.