“You will need a map, a sense of adventure and the most important ingredient, an incurable curiosity”
Though the big name Punchdrunk show at the moment is The Crash of the Elysium, thrilling children both young and old as part of the Manchester International Festival, there is another show which has snuck into London rather under the radar, The Uncommercial Traveller. A real community-based production, a collaboration between the Punchdrunk enrichment programme and the Arcola’s 50+ Theatre group, it was inspired by Dickens’ work of the same name, a collection of literary sketches and reminiscences of his night-time wanderings, delving into the hidden side of Victorian London.
At just £6 and a 30 minute running time, expectations had been accordingly adjusted, so it actually came of something of a pleasant surprise to find out there was more to the experience after the tickets had been booked. An atmospheric audio journey is provided for you, starting from Hackney Town Hall, which takes 50 minutes to wind through the history-filled streets of East London before ending up at a final location which sends you right into the heart of this Dickensian world where an individual adventure awaits. Continue reading “Review: The Uncommercial Traveller, Punchdrunk and Arcola”
“When I say ‘run’, we run”
Despite being a big Doctor Who fan and having a few days leave booked up in the North-West to visit family and become a godfather to the lovely Samuel Luke, I hadn’t intended to go and see The Crash of the Elysium, immersive theatre company Punchdrunk’s take on the long-running BBC sci-fi phenomenon. It is a family show, designed for kids aged 6-12 and when first announced, unaccompanied adults were no being let in. But more importantly, my first Punchdrunk experience, The Duchess of Malfi last year, was distinctly underwhelming and so there wasn’t quite the must-see aspect to this, even once a set of evening performances for adults were hastily added. A serendipitous alignment of some esteemed company making the trip possessing a spare ticket and me having a free night (plus absolutely no willpower to resist in the end!) combined to get us along to MediaCity near the Lowry complex in Salford for a Saturday night of Time Lord-related antics but with no sofa to hide behind…
Written by Tom MacRae, a scriptwriter from the Doctor Who team, the story starts with the group, 12 or so of us, being invited to look at an exhibition about the mysterious disappearance of the 19th Century steamship the Elysium, but there’s barely time to look at the exhibits before SAS-type troops burst into the room, declaring an alien spaceship has crash-landed and we’re all needed to help the investigation. A brief military training exercise once we’ve all suited up in decontamination suits and protective masks sees us assigned numbers and roles within teams and then the serious business of alien investigation is started. Continue reading “Review: The Crash of the Elysium, Punchdrunk at MediaCity Salford”
“Follow that bassoon”
Much like 3D glasses at the cinema, whoever came up with the idea of close-fitting masks for Punchdrunk’s shows, clearly does not wear glasses. I had a devil of a time hooking them over the mask and into the elastic at the sides and making sure they were secure. It may seem like a little thing but when you’re spending three hours wandering round looking for things to watch, it becomes a little frustrating having to constantly ensure your glasses don’t fall off.
A collaboration between ENO and Punchdrunk, The Duchess of Malfi is an immersive production of John Webster’s story set to a new score by Torsten Rasch. Spread over three floors of a disused office complex in outer East London, it is a typical Punchdrunk production in that the audience is left to find their own story through their own experience as they wander unguided to find impromptu scenes taking place in all sorts of strange environments. Continue reading “Review: Duchess of Malfi, ENO & Punchdrunk at Great Eastern Quay”