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Review: Flavour Text, online

Let’s begin with the caveat that I am not the world’s most logical thinker, cryptic crosswords might as well be in another language whilst escape rooms are not my idea of fun. However, I was intrigued by Chronic Insanity’s Flavour Text, presented as an ‘internet wide, narrative treasure hunt’. Theatre from home is limiting in many ways, so I fancied trying something new to intersperse the ‘zoom theatre’ experiences. Flavour Text is an experience that you embark on in your own time, with suggested time frames ranging from 45 minutes to many hours depending on how deep you go.…

Summary

Rating

Good

A bemusing treasure hunt across a variety of imaginary websites, that left me more confused than entertained.

Let’s begin with the caveat that I am not the world’s most logical thinker, cryptic crosswords might as well be in another language whilst escape rooms are not my idea of fun. However, I was intrigued by Chronic Insanity’s Flavour Text, presented as an ‘internet wide, narrative treasure hunt’. Theatre from home is limiting in many ways, so I fancied trying something new to intersperse the ‘zoom theatre’ experiences.

Flavour Text is an experience that you embark on in your own time, with suggested time frames ranging from 45 minutes to many hours depending on how deep you go. Beginning with the discovery that a much-loved restaurant has closed down, you are led to a variety of websites to find out why. This first section is intriguing, with lots to read and enough hints that the story progresses at a decent pace.

The websites have mostly been created within the world of the treasure hunt, with recognisable sites changed to avoid any legal issues. Added ‘o’s in their name don’t do a great job of disguising the real sites e.g. Twooter, Focebook, Toop Shoop and Booots. We’re all nosy to some degree, so it is great fun delving into email accounts and messages. It also occasionally linked to real websites, in particular a BBC article about a hotel in LA which had some mysterious things goings on.

However, after reading lots of messages and asking for a few clues via the real-life Twitter account, set up to give hints, I found I was stuck. Really stuck. Despite following the hints, I couldn’t really see a way out and, to be honest, my interest waned. As the Twitter responses are not instant, understandably, it is hard to sustain the interest. I wasn’t intrigued enough to devote hours of my time to trying to piece it together, and at this point it really was clocking up the hours.

It is perhaps bad timing for Chronic Insanity but given recent news stories regarding missing people and real tragedy in my local area, it felt in bad taste to be investigating missing individuals as entertainment. This is not necessarily a reflection on the production but didn’t sit comfortably given the narrative among the media and friends in recent weeks.

Flavour Text is a great idea, I’m sure some people would become completely absorbed in the world they have created, discovery so much more about the characters. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me – I’d appreciate it if they could let me know what we’re meant to discover as the solution!

Created by: Megan Gates, Charlotte Holder, Ruth Mestle, Harry Smith, and Sophie Whitebrook
Produced by: Chronic Insanity

Flavour Text is available until 31 December. Cronic Insanity has made the show free to access, but with donatiions welcomed.

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About Lily Middleton

Lily currently works for a gardening magazine, so spends her days writing about plants. When not stretching her green fingers, she can be found in a theatre or obsessively crafting. Her love of theatre began with musicals as a child, Starlight Express at the Apollo Victoria being her earliest memory of being completely entranced. She studied music at university and during this time worked on a few shows in the pit with her violin, notably Love Story (which made her cry more and more with each performance) and Calamity Jane (where the gunshot effects never failed to make her jump). But it was when working at Battersea Arts Centre at the start of her career that her eyes were opened to the breadth of theatre and the impact it can have. This solidified a life-long love of theatre, whether in the back of a pub, a disused warehouse or in the heart of the West End.

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