"The exciting foundation that this script lays is supported by the excellent actors in this production; there are no weak links"Evelina Gumileva

Brilliant Adventures is a witty, exciting and imaginative science fiction thriller. Time travel in plays is a rare commodity, and Alistair McDowall’s script is one of the few recent contributions to this underrated genre, making it an excellent choice for Cambridge theatre.

Many of McDowall’s plays include elements of science fiction – some are even set on other planets in the distant future. The science fiction in Brilliant Adventures, however, is not as obvious. It starts off as a classic living room drama set in a council estate in Middlesbrough, focusing on two siblings trying to improve their situation in life while dealing with their past. Suddenly, there is a time machine. McDowall’s script repeatedly lulls the audience into a sense of security, only to catch them off-guard with surprising twists.

Aaron Kilercioglu’s decision to change the gender of both Luke and Ben to female works excellently, and it is difficult to imagine the play with an all-male cast after having seen this production

The exciting foundation that this script lays is supported by the excellent actors in this production; there are no weak links, and Anna Wright especially stands out in her portrayal of Luke, the undiscovered genius who struggles to articulate herself due to her stutter. Aaron Kilercioglu’s decision to change the gender of both Luke and Ben to female works excellently, and it is difficult to imagine the play with an all-male cast after having seen this production. The actors’ skill is further showcased by their regional accents, which become even more effective by being contrasted with the London accent of Laura Pujos’s character.

Abby Zucker’s set makes good use of the space, and the cardboard time machine that is only held together by tape is excellent, but the Corpus Playroom feels too small for this play. The cramped atmosphere of Luke’s flat in the grim council estate is an important component of the play, but especially the second half could have worked better with some more room for the actors to move around. They are all extremely skilled when it comes to stage fighting, and the effect of this felt limited by the small space. Overall, the continuously high intensity of the second half might have worked better in a different space; in the Playroom I found myself wishing for some variation in energy. Too much continuous screaming, fighting and jumping around the stage meant that the production dragged somewhat towards the end.

I was positively surprised by the tech behind this production, especially on an opening night. A large number of sound effects, good lighting and even some well-placed projections were well conceptualised and wellexecuted. The deliberate and careful use of atmospheric background musing really contributed to the effect of some scenes, in particular. It is obvious that this production was brought together by a very skilled production team and a great cast; both are extremely professional for a student production and hold up to McDowall’s prize-winning script.

Kilercioglu’s production delivers 90 minutes of thrilling, edge-of-your seat family drama. The time travel does not distract from it; rather, it is necessary to bring out fascinating nuances in the already complex characters. 

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