This fun audio adventure really encourages children to use their imagination in an innovative way.

Clever, funny and completely absorbing, Curse of the Crackles is one of the most imaginative audio pieces that I have experienced during the last year.

Written by Bea Roberts and featuring some wonderfully inventive sound design by Ben and Max Ringham, children are asked to embark on an adventure with the help of Riff a kind and friendly dog to sort out the sounds in the world that are in the wrong place thanks to the naughty Crackles. In the journey, listeners visit a bee hive, a toy factory and get to know a whole host of loveable characters along the way.

Directed by Ed Stambollouian, the whole piece has plenty of interactive elements in it that will certainly keep the children entertained while some of the humour will really appeal to the adults too – making it for a really fun family experience. Every part of the adventure works well, while the sound design keeps you thoroughly absorbed in the setting and at 46 minutes long it is certainly pacy and concise.

The story by Bea Roberts is really imaginative as Riff asks the listener to draw a sound door or having to drive a get away car – it feels as though everything has been taken into account to ensure that the children listening are completely attentive to what is going on. Particular moments that made me smile include the scene in which we are in a beehive and all the bees are called Neville…well except for one who is called Brian who “no one listens to” which ends up being an amusing roll call. Meanwhile, the scene in which the Queen is eating crisps is well done – if slightly too brief.

Ben and Max Ringham’s sound design is really perfect. Every sound beautifully surrounds you and helps create the scene in the listeners mind – helpfully allowing the listener to use their imagination. Particularly vivid are the sounds of the sea and the various louder noises that had me looking around to see where it was coming from!

It has all been seamlessly put together in a wonderful way – the transitions between scenes are wonderful and it is clear the editing has been carefully done. The only thing I would say is that some scenes could be fleshed out a little bit more to make more of an impact.

However, I loved the way in which performers Norah Lopez Holden and Sam Swann really adapted to each character making each one as distinctive as possible – including Deirdre and the pirates. Both performances throughout are lively and easy to engage with despite of course never seeing them.

Overall, Curse of the Crackles is good natured fun for all of the family and a perfect distraction from the real world.

By Emma Clarendon

Curse of the Crackles is available to listen to via Shoreditch Town Hall until the 25th April. For more information visit: https://shoreditchtownhall.com/whats-on/curse-of-the-crackles

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐