Pros: Unique in every way, with stage trickery that is bound to stay with you for the rest of your theatre-going life.
Cons: Theatre at its best but something this unconventional will not be for everybody.
Walking along Shoreditch High Street, no one seemed to be able to tell me where Shoreditch Town Hall was. It took me four attempts to find a passer-by who could finally point me in the direction of what was once the grandest vestry hall in London. And what a vision it still is. With huge great steps leading up to the entrance and magnificent columns either side, this venue is certainly not the small black-box theatre above a pub you might expect to see experimental theatre in (not that there is anything wrong with small black-box pub theatres).
YOUARENOWHERE, which can be read as ‘you are nowhere’ or ‘you are now here’, is performed by creator Andrew Schneider, an interactive electronics artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A previous company member of Wooster Group, Schneider is an OBIE award-winning performer and has taken his work all over the world. This is YOUARENOWHERE’s UK premiere, presented as part of the London International Festival of Theatre.
The performance begins with a single man on stage. As the lights flicker on and off, he shifts his position around the auditorium, never in the same place twice. On the front row aisle seat, I jump as the lights come up once more and I see him sitting right beside me, sweat pouring off his bare, costume-less chest. As he migrates around the space, Schneider combines physics and pop culture in a series of musings, tells stories, and asks questions that discuss the idea of life, death, perception and reality.
This discussion, presented at breakneck speed, is technical and complicated to understand. But it doesn’t matter: this is not a performance where every question is answered. In fact, you should expect to go away with more questions than you could possibly imagine, and you will be left trying to piece together every element of the show for days to come.
Andrew Schneider and his creative collaborators have put together an impeccable, all-encompassing multimedia piece and the use of sound and light, coupled with the provocative subject matter, is spectacular. With crashing light bulbs, timed-to-the-second sound effects and a disappearing act that will leave you gobsmacked, this truly is a work of genius. Andrew Schneider clearly has full control of the technology he uses and knows how to combine it with some of life’s most mysterious questions.
If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road, feel-good play, a bit of Shakespeare, or a cheerful musical, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re open-minded and keen to see something new, exciting and totally different, then I implore you to give YOUARENOWHERE at try. Andrew Schneider’s show is an absolute must see. It is just a shame that it is only on for four nights, which, understandably, have completely sold out. However, if you do stumble across a ticket, grab it with both hands, expect the unexpected and prepare to be amazed.
*Unsurprisingly, this production has sold out but there may still be a way for you to take part. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creator: Andrew Schneider
Producer: Sandra Garner, Lingua Franca Arts
Box Office: 020 7968 6808
Booking Until: Friday 18th June