Wednesday, 26 June 2013
The Drowned Man - Punchdrunk
I've been told not to say too much about the evening. There's others expecting the full range of surprises, so I'll keep this oblique.
A visit to an almost derelict building around the back of Praed Street, where a line of people formed quietly alongside one of the loading bays. No signage to indicate the purpose, just recognition from others attending.
We were there for a preview of 'The Drowned Man', the latest production from the theatre company Punchdrunk, this time set in Temple Studios, the London outpost of Hollywood's Republic Pictures.
I've been to Punchdrunk at other venues and it's a rather unique theatrical experience. In this case a multiple story building for the multiple stories of the production.
200,0000 sq ft of space to create a series of offices, movie sets and so much more. The detail is there too, look into artists' rooms and their lives are spread out before you - blending early 60's London with Hollywood.
There were around 600 of us at this National Theatre preview performance, although the unguided nature of the show meant that sometimes I could find myself alone in a broad town square, a forest, a caravan or ... I'd better not say more. Go with friends, but expect to completely lose them for at least part of the evening.
Other times there would be action unfolding with more than a hundred masked audience following a single actor as they moved to a new scene. Kind of audience as character. Or a couple of audience sitting alone on a swing. Someone sleeping on a bench. A significant and sometimes guarded barrier. A song and dance number being performed on a sound stage for the cameras. Or two shots of happy and one shot of sad.
The walk-around (promenade sounds too structured) nature of the show means there really isn't a fourth wall to break, because it's quite possible to find oneself in amongst the Tinseltown action. Sometimes quite graphically.
It's safe to say that every visitor's acquired performance will be unique. It's a type of Dream Factory, one of the old nicknames for Hollywood. It worked, both whilst I was there, and the later present of sand in my shoes and unexpected dreams when I returned home.
I'll go again, for more and a different story, when it's past the previews.