Heads Up: The Drowned Man
Lost Hollywood dreams pull in to Paddington
What are we talking about? A new show from immersive, site-specific theatre company Punchdrunk. It's a promenade performance through a large building next to Paddington station, which they promise to transform into "the forgotten world of Temple Studios", a British outpost of a Hollywood film-making powerhouse studio. Subtitled A Hollywood Fable, expect golden age glamour cut with lost dreams, all inspired by Georg Büchner's incomplete play, Woyzeck.
Elevator pitch Drowning in hype or swimming against the tide? Punchdrunk are back, and everyone's excited.
Prime movers The show's produced with the National Theatre; direction comes from Punchdrunk artistic director Felix Barrett and choreographer Maxine Doyle, who has also worked recently with the Young Vic on The Changeling and Hamlet. Frequent Punchdrunk designers Livi Vaughan and Beatrice Minns will be in charge of creating the space again.
The stars A company of 39 actors. (Punchdrunk do devising, rather than starry names.)
The early buzz The show already had its own mini-show, live-action trailer in a shop in Dalston; The Telegraph wrote: "It's impossible to rate this live trailer as a show in its own right – it's just a snippet of what's to come. But it does prove that despite their global success, Punchdrunk's inventiveness, their playfulness and their need to bewitch have not dimmed." Time Out wrote: "They've spawned countless imitators and pushed audiences' understanding of the potential of theatre to the limit – and now Britain's immersive theatre pioneers, Punchdrunk, are returning."
Insider knowledge The show has been on the cards for a while – but they were waiting for a building large enough. With more than 200,000 square feet to play with in Paddington, it sounds as if they've found it.
It's great that … the run has already been extended to December due to huge demand; it's a hot ticket but you can still get your mitts on one.
It's a shame that … with that much space, and a promise/warning the experience could take three hours, it sounds as if The Drowned Man may risk prompting those "did I miss the good bit?" fears that interactive theatre can produce.
Hit potential Sure-fire. Already selling extraordinarily well.
The details The Drowned Man is at Temple Studios, London W2, 20 June to 30 December.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
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