This surreal and unique show will appeal to anyone who once owned a Sega Mega Drive or an N64. It's set in an 8-bit video-game world, full of retro gaming sound effects, 80's and 90's game glitches, and loading screens.
Clara Cupcakes is our heroic underwater protagonist, cutesy and a bit dim – but ultimately an 8-legged bad ass, who will do all she can to battle through a series of bizarre and challenging levels to break back in to the Octopus Kingdom (from where she has been banished).
It is a refreshing concept, even down to the weird variety of levels, giving the audience restart buttons and the random appearance of scrolls throughout. Some of the best bits come from Clara's relationship with a nosy invertebrate avatar, and her fourth-wall-breaking interactive sequences combing the audience for clues. Clara is an endearing and playful character, and it's when she physically draws the audience in to her world that the show really comes alive.
Where it falls slightly short is with the pacing: true to the gaming format, there is a stop-start nature to the show as Clara struggles to complete her missions. And at times the use of physical theatre and clowning within the video game-style has a tendency to jar in the context of the storyline. There are a few moments where it gets quite abstract, and it's hard to see where the show is going.
All in all, with a touch more of that successful audience engagement, this is a potential winner. Fans of 80's and 90's arcade games will enjoy all the in-jokes – and when you scratch under the exaggerated drag-inspired shellfish chic surface it becomes apparent that there might be a recurring personal story here, right down to the inevitable Boss Level showdown.