Today we visited the Sage Gateshead to take part in a brilliant new summer show – Family Quest: Let the beat go on! It is a show, a craft session, a walking tour of the building, and an immersive experience for the whole family. We were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review.
Family Quest: Let the Beat Go On! at Sage Gateshead Summer 2017
If you have a look at the website, there isn’t really much given away about the Family Quest event at the Sage Gateshead. In fact, the information about the relaxed performance kind of threw me off into thinking this was a traditional show. It isn’t.
An evil force, aka The Silencer, has Sage Gateshead in its sights. This mysterious entity has turned down the volume, shut up the singing and unplugged the band. Music has left the building… We need your help to beat The Silencer!
Family Quest missions
As you arrive, you’re seated around a stage, with a golden curtain and a definite 60s vibe, and the two singers begin their show. They start to sing, and play their instruments, but then The Silencer strikes! The double bass and the tambourine become soundless! Fortunately, people from the Society of Underground Noise Defenders (S.O.U.N.D) were there and able to help us undertake a series of missions to get the sounds back from The Silencer!
We were lead down the stairs the boys always want to go down in the Sage, and into a room where posters were on the wall with S.O.U.N.D slogans on. The group we were in was quite a big group, and so we were split into two to carry out the challenges.
The first, for our group, was a fun walk through a corridor, with footprints marked on the floor. As we stepped into each set of footprints, a sound might be heard through the funnel above our heads. If we heard a sound we had to take a note of the letter on the floor next to the footprint. It might sound confusing, and it was at the time because Noah was running ahead and setting all the noises off, and someone else from the group was behind us, also setting noises off… So we didn’t find out the answer to this challenge but fortunately we were quickly told what the answer was and it turned out to be a password. My kids are totally into passwords at the moment.
For our next challenge we were making music from everyday items so that The Silencer didn’t see they were musical instruments and steal the sound. So we played cups, drainpipes with flip-flops, and shakers made from rice in boxes, among other things. The cast (is that the right word, in this case?) were really inclusive, and even though Noah is little he was offered a turn in every thing, as were all the other children in the room.
The way the rooms were set up played to the whole event. A great deal of thought has obviously been applied and the effect is that this is a very real situation. For example, towards the end of the session, we enter The Silencer’s Sound Library, where The Silencer stores the noises they’ve taken. This is a really clever set. We could peek into boxes, all labelled according to the noise they represent. We looked inside the box marked “standing ovation” to find lots of gloves and a mini speaker playing a round of applause, and inside the “roundabout noise” box, were toy vehicles and a speaker with traffic noise. In the box marked “cheap sounds” were yellow feathers you might recognise if you went on the Frost of Forgetfulness, with bird song playing on the speaker. There are many other boxes, and all worth checking out.
Other missions included making an ear trumpet from paper, recreating traffic noises, and listening to a violinist in the main hall, among others. There is so much more to it; I won’t give it all away, but be prepared for quite a bit of walking around the back corridors of the Sage, and up and down stairs, as well as in a lift. You will need to do some singing, but it’s all as a group. The children are spoken to in such a calm, inclusive way, and everything they say is taken as a positive contribution to the event, even if it actually isn’t!!
At the end, The Silencer is befriended, and after a dramatic curtain raise all the children are on the stage in a performance, with the household objects they learned how to play earlier. We had taken a circuitous route around the building in secret corridors and back stairs.
We had such a fantastic afternoon. James has been under the weather all week, and was quite anxious about The Silencer, but he really enjoyed it, and was buzzing in the car on the way home. He was especially made up with his S.O.U.N.D sticker! Noah was quick to tell his daddy about playing the drainpipe with a flip flop when he arrived home.
This Family Quest event is on at the Sage Gateshead on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 27 July to 26 August. Start times – 10.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm & 3.30pm. Family Quest: Let the Beat Go On! takes about 90 minutes to two hours from start to finish. Tickets are £6 per child (grown-ups go free).
There are toilets at regular points around the building, including baby change. Car parking is £1.90 per hour or £4.80 if you pay in advance. Picnic bags include a choice of sandwich, a packet of crisps, craisins, a drink and an apple for £4.95. You can pay in advance for these online but they are not connected to the performance in any way, and no cheaper than if you buy in the Sage on the day. There are two children’s play areas, suited to under 5s, and these are free to access whenever the building is open.