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The Roof, Doon Street Car Park, London - theatre review


Twenty years ago, the great Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa used the idea of the video game as a metaphor for the questings of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, played by Michael Sheen.  You knew what Ninagawa wanted it to mean but the execution was muddled and a bit perfunctory.

The reverse is more or less the case now with The Roof, the immersive new outdoor show directed and choreographed by David Rosenberg and Frauke Requardt and presented by Fuel as part of LIFT.

It's a strange, purposely disorienting mix of a collective and a solitary experience.  Standing in this commandeered car park opposite the National Theatre, audiences are treated to a spectacular 360-degrees human simulation of a video-game over which, paradoxically, they have no control. 

A jump-suited avatar and his foes leap across chasms in the circular makeshift roofscape and flips and tumbles as he fights his foes and progresses up the levels, wins rewards, and tries to engage with a female pirate DJ trapped like Rapunzel in her tower-block flat. 

Each punter, though, is fed the excellent sound effects and music through Binaural headsets (a track uncannily well synchronised to the action) as if trying to take us into the interior world of figures.

But the show, though occasionally witty and exciting, make too little of these clashing perspectives and, with its potential as yet unrealised, feels, in the end, flashily pointless.

To 28 June; 0207 968 6808