Close-up: Tristan Sharp

Need a little site-specific theatrical alchemy? Enter the master...
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The Independent Online

This man can do amazing things. He can make your reflection disappear. He can turn drama students into the walking dead of Dostoyevsky's Moscow. In the past, we might have called it necromancy; now it is known as site-responsive theatre and Tristan Sharp is emerging as a master of the genre. His work has been compared with Deborah Warner's theatrical "installations" but Sharp's company, dreamthinkspeak, is really sui generis. His latest work is just what the Liverpool Culture Company needs – an unqualified hit.

One Step Forward, One Step Back has been created for the city's gothic Cathedral, where it will take place at dusk. Groups of three to six people will be encouraged to explore the cathedral's secret spaces, some hitherto unseen "even by staff", says Sharp. His inspirations include Dante's "Paradiso", Blake's "Milton" and (somewhat unpredictably) urban regeneration. "Change happens so fast in cities," he explains. "This building is one of the few constants, and so is the idea of spiritual searching – and I say that as a very non-religious person."

How does he do it? He trained as an actor with Jacques Lecoq in Paris. In 1999, aged 35, he moved to Brighton and founded dreamthinkspeak, a company whose first major piece was Don't Look Back; it has just completed a world tour responding to sites as diverse as a paper factory in Moscow and a disused hotel in Kuala Lumpur . Which site will next be touched by his alchemy? "I've been home for 25 days in the past two years," he explains, "so I should really be a bit responsive to my flat."

'One Step Forward, One Step Back' is at Liverpool Cathedral until 10 May (0844 8000 410; www.visitliverpool.com)

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