Directed by Rosanna Mallinson
Pros: The best immersive theatre I’ve seen in a very long time.
Cons: The murder mystery style acting isn’t to everyone’s tastes.
Our Verdict: Be inside a horror film: a fabulously fun evening that gets under your skin. You’ll be talking about this one for a while.
Waiting for a show to start has never made me so excited. This immersive performance begins the moment you arrive, with the actors cleverly engaging you in casual conversation to the point where as the piece goes on , you’re really not sure who are ‘plants’ from producers Immercity
, and who are your friends!
You’re going to a séance – you’re helping out a ‘friend’ and they are as bewildered as you. The show starts in a pub and it feels very much like a cross between a ghost walk and a murder mystery; the journey between the pub and the wine cellar in which the séance is to be held is peppered with historical facts about the area and very cleverly interwoven information about the protagonists and their relationships with each other. Anticipation and intrigue intensifies – although you know you’re not actually going to be contacting the dead, nervous camaraderie builds within the group. Like any good horror film, you know you’re perfectly safe – but there’s always that nagging feeling that anything could happen…
As you enter the building where the wine cellar is, darkness, smell and the claustrophobic space are used so imaginatively – you can just relax and enjoy the surroundings and growing tension. There’s no greater force to make you laugh in apprehension than being asked not to, and the experience is perfectly unbalancing in the way you are prepared for the descent, from protection talismans and ointments to being split up from your friends.
The wine cellar is perfect and darkness designer, Alex Kennedy, has done his job well as there is a delicate understanding of how the audience sees through different senses, sight being just one. Candles, torches, mirrors, lamps: no natural daylight or theatrical lighting is used and the blackness envelopes and creeps around you. You’re sitting in a circle, actors included, but never once do you miss any of the action; it is cleverly designed outside the circle as well as within it. Despite having to peer and twist occasionally, your focus is guided effectively by movement and sound so you never feel that awful conflict you sometimes have when there’s too much going on and you want to see it all but can’t.
The storyline and the acting are very much that of a sitting room drama: a little ludicrous but not to the point of being insincere or ham-ish. This allows a separation between the unfolding events and reality, so if there are any scary-cats in your party, fear not: they’ll have the jolt of queuing for a roller coaster but the terror level is set at tea-cup ride. This makes the entire experience fun, curious, chock full of suspense and very enjoyable to chat about with your new friends in the pub afterwards.
You know you’ve seen a great show when you’re desperate to go back for more, and Wyrd’s three sisters (who are more menacing than any Macbeth witches) have plenty of scope for a come-back, delving into the history of London and the personal lives of the dead. You must see this – it’s a terrific example of site-specific immersive theatre, and even the most un-theatrey person you know will love it.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Wyrd runs at a Secret Location in Southwark until 19th May 2013.