EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: THE TRAIL TO OREGON!, The Space On North Bridge
The Oregon Trail is a famous, or perhaps notorious, computer game from the 1970s, originally intended as a piece of educational software to teach US school pupils about 19th-century western migration.
It became iconic for its extreme difficulty, with a player-created party of pioneers inevitably falling to a myriad of fatal incidents - from broken wagon axles to dysentery - on their way to a new life in Oregon.
The fiendish video game was reimagined as a comedy musical in 2014 by Team Starkid, and Gone Rogue Productions have brought the show to the Fringe this year as a European premiere.
It retains a few video game elements through audience participation, with a late-night Fringe crowd ensuring the legacy of entering rude words into school computers lives on when naming the family of five pioneers (seven-year-old Broken Condom was the least filthy of the names suggested at this particular performance).
The Trail To Oregon! is a fun little show, with catchy tunes and plenty of ridiculous plot contrivances, that is nevertheless well enough constructed to make even a lobster ex machina seem justified.
Gone Rogue Productions have fully captured the spirit of the script, with plenty of great visual gags and broad comedy, backed up with top notch American accents and country stylings. The small-scale production worked very well, with a two-piece band (occasionally augmented by cast members on guitar) and simple but effective staging and design.
The cast all have fine voices and harmonise beautifully, managing well even without amplification. Josh Vaatstra as the Father has a good deal of folksy charm, while Bella Norris as the Son shows excellent comic timing. As this was the final show of the run, there were a number of ad libs in the performance, with pop culture references galore, and the cast managed to be hilarious even when going beyond the script.
The cast's energy throughout was infectious, and a surprisingly broad audience found the show utterly hilarious from start to finish. This was an excellent production of a highly entertaining musical that will leave you humming ditties about dysentery and caulking wagons.
The Trail To Oregon! has now finished its run.