What is Welcome to Night Vale?

For those of you who may not know Welcome to Night Vale, here’s a brief rundown. It’s an audio fiction podcast created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, and it’s been running since 2012. It focuses on the broadcasts coming from a community radio station based in a very strange desert town where conspiracies become reality. A Spy in the Desert is one of those stories, adapted to for a live performance. Let’s just say, it gets pretty weird!

How Night Vale Live Shows Work

Put simply, the voice actors perform the episode on stage in front of a live audience. They make sure that the episode they bring to perform to the live audiences is easily accessible, meaning if anybody attends that has never listened to Welcome to Night Vale before, they can still have a good time.

A Spy in the Desert live at Manchester, UK.

They also make sure to include a few references for the people who have listened before as well so that they feel like they’re still listening to something familiar.

A Spy in the Desert Review

Now obviously I will be avoiding spoilers here so, if anyone is reading this and plans ongoing, don’t panic! You’re safe!

The first thing I will say is the number of people in costume as characters from the show was insane! Everyone had put so much work and effort in, and one person even came with an umbrella made up to look like the Glow Cloud, a recurring character in Night Vale. Everyone was buzzing with excitement, which meant that even before the show, the atmosphere was amazing!

Amazing Musical Numbers

The show started with a few general announcements about phones and fire exits, but done in the wonderfully quirky Night Vale style. Then we moved on to the musical guest, Mal Blum, who was fantastic and truly fit in with Night Vale’s overall aesthetic.

Onto the main podcast episode, which was just as strange and kooky as you would expect as a Welcome to Night Vale listener. Cecil’s delivery of everything was on point, and I was with three Night Vale newbies who can vouch for that! The episode had everything you could want; From bringing back characters we hadn’t heard from for quite a while, to getting the audience emotional about a fan favourite character, to the audience chanting in time to Cecil’s words.

Written for Night Vale Fans

My only complaint, and it is a small one, is I did feel like this live show episode, in particular, felt like it was written, more for the people that listen to Night Vale, and less for those who are completely new to it. 

There were an awful lot of references to characters and events from the show, which is great if you know them, but the newbies that accompanied me ended up getting pretty lost. Not because of the strangeness of Night Vale, that actually appealed to them, but because of the number of references, they could see other members of the audience enjoying. Previous live episodes that I’ve seen from them were definitely, in my opinion, more accessible to completely new listeners than this one.

That aside, it was a fantastic experience! The three newbies I had with me said they had very much enjoyed the whole experience of both a live podcast episode, and Welcome to Night Vale in general. We came away from this whole experience with a lot to talk about, and a newfound hatred of the moon…

Our Rating 9/10

Overall 9/10

A Spy in the Desert is a fun live performance that builds on the podcast. Although there are references that some might not understand without having listened to the podcast, it doesn't take anything away from the show for both newcomers and avid fans.

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