Sunday, April 13, 2014

Drunk with theater

A quick stay in London and a stop with the 16-year-old (Flo) and her 18-year-old best guy friend (Max) to see another production by the Punchdrunk Theatre Company -- The Drowned Man:A Hollywood Fable.

Last December, we'd seen Punchdrunk's Sleep No More in New York and were wildly enthusiastic (as you can read here) about it. This time, Max and I had a more tepid reaction, while Flo had a better experience, which is a kind of validation of Punchdrunk's approach.

Like last time, we audience members were masked and followed various story lines throughout a large building (an unused mail sorting facility) decorated according to the story setting. This one was the fictional Temple Studios, a film facility that mysteriously closed in the early 1960s.

We were handed cards with storylines involving two couples plagued by infidelity - in one, the man kills the woman, in the other, it's the opposite. Our group of three split up and we each witnessed scenes that were generally wordless, using dance and atmospheric music to play out the deadly shadowbox of love, lust, jealousy and fame-chasing.

Living in a trailer on the outskirts of Hollywood.

On a California beach near the sign of an abandoned motel.
Later, at a pub, Max and I said we thought Sleep No More, based primarily on Macbeth, was more effective -- more variety in the scenes, a stronger sense of plot, better identification of the characters, less confusion for the audience.

But Flo, while agreeing that character identification could have been better, had seen some scenes we had missed and had a much more positive view of the production.

Five hundred audience members - 500 different plays. Still a brilliant concept.

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