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March 12

The Drowned Man

By Ella Miista
The award-winning theatre company Punchdrunk describes The Drowned Man as their biggest and most ambitious production yet. That it is. If you're anything like me or any of the Miistas, you probably don't go to the theatre as often as you'd like. It requires a lot of planning ahead and finding affordable tickets can be a pain. We could list a thousand different reasons but no excuse is good enough when it comes to The Drowned Man. If you're not a theatre lover, skip King Lear and 12 Angry Men. Just don't miss out on this one. Saying it's theatre is almost like a half-truth. It's theatre insofar that it has actors and a stage. And then another stage, and another and then a few more. An example of immersive theatre, it's more like a journey. One very theatrical personal journey. The visual side of the production is spectacular. The attention to detail when creating the sets is otherworldly. From sand covering the floor here to the antiseptic stench filling the air there, authenticity was taken to a whole new level. Spreading across four floors, the fictional Temple Studios is like a world within a world. A cinema playing a horror film, eventually revealing an equally sinister image behind the silver screen. A fully functioning water fountain on a town square, surrounded by rundown shops. A moustached lady singing in a bar, a sleazy cowboy charming the girls. It was kinda like the outside world, just set in a different time where everything is more eerie. And of course, in this world voyeurism is encouraged. At the same time, it was a little underwhelming. Because there's no guidance, you might end up not seeing that much. As far as your experience goes, it's very situational. Following the actors felt rushed but staying behind could mean seeing no one but other lost souls. A few audience members were guided away by actors, taken behind locked doors. But though characters were always aware of the audience, not everyone gets pulled in. You might lock your eyes with an actor but that's hardly interactive. It also made the narrative difficult to follow. I say 'difficult' but for the better part of the evening I had no idea what was happening. Luckily, it's kind of irrelevant. It's the surreality of the situation that leaves such a deep mark. It's wandering through a maze for three hours like a ghost like creature that defines the experience. The whole thing leaves people speechless because it feels so much like real life. Just, crazier and more intense. Watching any of those scenes felt like eavesdropping. It's as if you're listening in on a conversation you're not meant to hear. Just, in the world inside Temple Studios, being a little creep is encouraged. Once you exit the building and take off the mask, it's forbidden again. That's what makes it such an elevating experience. Look, the only really bad thing about the whole thing was the mask. It's been running for a while so you'd think they'd have nicer ones by now but alas! Far too big for a normal human face, it kept slipping off while miraculously still squeezing on the nose. Underneath it my face got all sweaty - gross. But, it's a small price to pay. Wear comfortable shoes, familiarise yourself Woyzeck for some context and enjoy it. Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man Punchdrunk The Drowned Man
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