Brighton Fringe 2019
2headedpigeon theatre deliver exactly what is advertised on the radio-active tin. This is an escape room meets theatre starting in a suburban back garden immersing into the under belly of a basement to untangle the mystery and save the world whilst being guided and following the narrative of an endearing scientist.
With a keen interest in apocalyptic stories such as The Walking Dead’s epic battle for survival and with experience as an immersive theatre performer and director this was the first show I was drawn to in the listings. This show is also advertised in a venue that I have never heard of before. This was literally stepping in to the unknown. When we look at the psychology of why there are so many series of the ‘end of the world’ theme, this more accurately refers to the revelations that we seek in living. The latin roots of the word Apokalupsis (apocalypse), literally means to ‘uncover’. So it makes sense that there is a deeper meaning in what an apocalypse means. Rather than the ‘end of the world’ there is the notion about uncovering the truth about our world.
To put some context to this 2headedpigeon Theatre Company are clown punk theatre makers and have been producing theatre from what appears to be 2006 and state that they believe theatre can effect change. At the helm is Clare Shucksmith, Deviser, Performer and Director who laid clearly the first clues to uncover the reason why life in Brighton was coming to a close. Even before all the participants sprang into action to solve the mystery there was a meaning in all the information that relates very much to out current climate crisis emergency, the work of extinction rebellion and how the imbalance of the eco-system will bring about catastrophe. Within this interactive theatre experience there was a message.
We were initially met by front of house and orientated into information and safety. This does lead into a contextual narrative placing us into the story timeline. We were then lead in to the bunker and into a series of puzzles to untangle to truth, find the antidote and plan the next steps. All punctuated by one actor – the survivor. This is a devised piece of theatre. Even though there are clues to be found and solve, the narrative will always lead to the same conclusion. The plot is extremely well thought through and developed with a sophisticated development of sequential steps that inter weave and map the experience.
The first actor we meet relayed an eloquent story in its delivery and would have created more of a connection for the audience if this was not read from the clipboard. The scientist within the bunker is Pip played by Clare Shucksmith who held the challenging space and participants majestically weaving together the skill of delivering the narrative, improvising at times, keeping everyone involved with care, focusing the participants on the tasks, operating the technical requirements and communicating with the outside world. A feat with the ten participants. The bunker was set with well documented, sourced and thought through props within the spaces with an attention to detail. Do not be put off by the initial space there does need some acclimatisation and I would recommend some additional lighting. This show has certainly grasped the interactive and immersive genre and delivers a guided experience with some thought provoking moments and reflections. Ideal for groups of friends or even go on your own as the company clearly state ‘this is no competition, this is about saving humanity and working together.’
This is a brave, fun and poignant theatrical experience where I noticed everyone’s personal survival strategy took over within the team setting. Participants jumped into leaders, supporters, strategists, thinkers, risk takers and care givers. It is worth pointing out the many levels of experience that this form of theatre offers. The theatrical universal experience, the personal responses of each individual regarding their relationship with the ‘end’, the roles that they played and the oblique use of theatre to convey a very real message about the future if we do not listen. End Times: An Immersive Adventure is a Hidden Gem in the Fringe as a lesser known venue that has value and quality that requires your attendance.