|"Immersed in a wonderful movement"|
by Colin Hake for remotegoat on 16/01/14
As you read this there are literally thousands of empty buildings all over London that aren't being used for anything, let alone their original purpose. Thankfully some of them are being converted into makeshift theatre spaces by companies like Wilderness who are currently taking over the old BBC offices on Marylebone High Street, supported by immersive theatre residents Theatre Delicatessen.
'The Day Shall Declare It' is an immersive/site specific/interactive (call it what you will) piece that combines several of Tennessee Williams texts with interviews and writings of Studs Terkel, an American social commentator and historian. As an audience member you are led around the small but very well utilised space by the three performers and interacted with on occasion, though most of the 'journey' has a very voyeuristic feel to it. Set over four rooms the play has a loose narrative that is well enhanced by the 'Punchdrunkesque' choreography of Sophie Bortolussi, although such strength in movement clearly shows a devised process, and a seemingly fun one at that!
The repetitive text passages and dance movements added to the cyclical feel of the piece, capturing the mundane monotony of the Great Depression period well, and hidden spaces and subtle entrances left me wondering where I was going next. For me this project goes from good to really good due to artistic and sound design of Annie Saunders and John Zalewski respectively. A small disused office in central London has been converted into something quite spectacular and the theatre piece relies heavily on the actors interaction with the set and sound, something too many fringe theatre pieces ignore, but what Wilderness achieve fantastically. Subtle almost subliminal sounds and music combined with the movement and sound created by the characters draws the audience closer to action and pushes them away at just the right points. Performances on the whole are all strong but particular mention must go to Anthony Nikolchev who managed to add the perfect balance to the piece through both his movement and his delivery of the text.
I left the performance feeling like it would continue even after the audience had gone, something all immersive theatre should do I believe, but this one in particular. If I have one criticism of the piece it is that it had a little too much in common with some of the things I have seen in 'The Drowned Man' but obviously on a much smaller scale. (That said, if you are unsure about immersive theatre and don't want to spend a fortune seeing the Drowned Man, this is a perfect insight into what immersive is all about!) I was also annoyed with one of the ushers who was on an iPad during the performance, something that broke the illusion and took away from the slick professionalism of the rest of the performance. However on the whole I felt this was strong and well thought out theatre that makes use of space and sound beautifully. There is nothing like being immersed in a wonderful movement!
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