20th June, 2013 - Ongoing | 'Temple Studios' 31 London Street
Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man builds on the company’s reputation for brilliantly detailed large scale installation / site-intervention performances. The installation work is incredible, and worth seeing regardless of what the performers do with it.
The audience are given masks and immersed in a movie studio world of almost-American performers, fulfilling the expected tropes of the genre. It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and one that most of the audience seems accustomed to, rushing around after the performers, the more Punchdrunk-savvy crowding around and taking every opportunity to attempt to interact with them. This begins to grate after a while, and I found it a more rewarding experience to give up on trying to follow the performers (or the plot such as there is), and explore the installation work away from the crowds.
I will say that the audience manipulation is very well executed, leaving a feeling of freedom intact, while subtly broadcasting the locations of action or interest through the use of omnipresent sound design. I would find myself heading in a particular direction without quite realising why, guided by sound location. Sometimes this is very unsubtle, but it works extremely well.
With such an impressive design, it is a shame that the narrative content and performances are largely disappointing. There are dance numbers, cliches and characters that would not be out of place in a mainstream musical. It’ same winning formula to popularise Punchdrunk’s form, but it fails to exploit the potential of the innovative form to actually say something new.
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- 嘈之家閉 | Applied Drama Centre (with Adrian Jackson) - June 23, 2014
- Seventh Sense | Anarchy Dance Theatre - June 13, 2014
- iTMOi | Akram Khan Company - April 11, 2014
- The Drowned Man | Punchdrunk - September 11, 2013
- Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis | Maria Protopappa - August 6, 2013