JOYCE MCMILLAN on DRAGON QUEST at Monikie Country Park, Angus, for The Scotsman, 19.10.15.
3 stars ***
PART SHOW, part installation, part magical walk through a night-time forest, and part crash-course in the apparently infinite powers of an ingenious smartphone app, Vision Mechanics’ Dragon Quest is presented by SneekAPeek AR as “the world’s first augmented reality theatre adventure”, and it certainly seems like an experiment with a whole new world of entertainment potential.
Designed as a family experience, Dragon Quest takes place at dusk and after dark, as the audience is escorted in small groups to the edge of the forest near the lake, and given the low-down by a member of the Dragon Protection League. The wood is full of kindly dragons, apparently, who are being persected by trolls, hobgoblins and poachers; so off we go, through a familiar Vision Mechanics world of singing flowers and muttering, glowing bivouac tents, with installations featuring the caravan-cum-research-station of missing dragon scientists Dan and Petra, a poachers’ hut, and a memorable pile of steaming dragon poo.
The main interest, though, lies in the strange symbols pinned to trees along the way; for if you point your smartphone at them, a creature appears on your screen between you and the tree – a troll, hobgoblin or fairy that you can photograph and collect, to win a Dragon Quest badge. The result is an event slightly divided between the real setting where it takes place, and the on-screen monsters which – as ever – command more immediate attention; but one day, I suspect Vision Mechanics will make a show using this same virtual technology, in a way that enhances the real experience even more, and competes with it a little less.
Monikie Country Park, Angus, until 1 November.