Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Punchdrunk: The Drowned Man

The Best Theatrical Experience.

The Drowned Man, by Punchdrunk has become somewhat of a legend among aspiring theater students as it is not only entirely unconventional, but is also an entirely interactive and immersive experience. 

From before you even enter the studios where the piece is set, you feel the buzz and excitement all around you from the other audience members, all apprehensive, nervous and yet strangely excited. You have to queue to get in and they require you to leave all bags in their bag storage area, for reasons which become obvious once you enter the main stage performance space.

The studio is built up of four different floors. You enter the performance via the elevator after being given a mask which you are to wear for the duration of the performance. The Gatekeeper gives you a bit of an idea of what you are about to experience whilst encouraging you to stay away from friends and experience this performance by yourself. This may seem daunting, given the creepy music and dark hallways, however I found it to be highly beneficial to split up from my friends as this helped add to the realistic feel of the performance. 

The first floor, from what I could see was only props which you were allowed to touch and examine as you liked. The belonged to the characters of the play and every detail was absolute perfection. You could spend hours trawling through the different rooms, exploring the lives of the characters through their possessions.

However the main action happened on the upper floors. Characters were scattered around the building in different rooms and each of them had their own, highly detailed story. There were two 'main' storylines, the William and Mary story, and the Marshal and Wendy story, one of which was an inversion of the other. 

The characters all interacted with each other at one point or another, using a mixture of dialogue and contemporary dance to convey the emotions and aims of each scene before they would split off. The wonderful thing about this was that you could follow any characters you liked!

After examining the first floor for a length of time, I then found William and Mary and decided to follow their story line for a while, swapping between following William and Mary and some other of the main characters until that storyline was finished (each story looped 3 times). After that, I followed random characters, which turned out to be highly confusing at first, as I had no idea who they were in relation to anyone else, but somehow found Marshal, entirely by accident, and managed to catch the end of his story with Wendy before everyone was gathered together for a truly haunting ending.

The experience was entirely amazing. Props, set, costume, performance... everything was done in so much detail that the world and stories truly came alive in that space. I would say that it is not only one of the best performances, but also one of the best experiences I have ever had and has also given me an idea for a new project I would like to do! (When I eventually get money that is...)

Anyway, The Drowned Man is only on for another few performances, so if I were you, I'd get down there straight away!
Tickets can be found HERE.

Other than that, that's all from me for today. Catch you soon :)


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