PETRICHOR – Is it a play? Is it a film? Is it a VR video game?

PETRICHOR

Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 1BN

8th – 12th December 2020

Theatre Royal Stratford East

A theatre has stood on this East End site since 1884 so it has survived two world wars and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, therefore the coronavirus is unlikely to disturb its ongoing cultural and historic legacy. The first production offered to resurrect its fortunes after the two lockdowns is the fittingly groundbreaking Petrichor.

Set in a dystopian future, you’ll need to wear an Oculus headset to enjoy this 360 degree immersive reality experience. Unfortunately, you’re not provided with one of those office swivel chairs, yet you’ll need the full 360! Forget sitting in the audience watching the stage as with traditional theatre – with Petrichor you’re the one sat on the stage facing the audience area.

This innovative mix of theatre, dance, animation and film is set in a future society where there is no pain – but also no happiness. The extremes of human emotion and sensory response, both dark and light, evened out into a functional, mechanical purgatory of work, eat sleep, work, eat, sleep…

Are the highs and lows of everyday living worth trading in for a grey middle ground? You’ll find out when you experience a theatre production quite unlike any other. It takes some getting used to and you are deliberately given no hard and fixed advice on how to view and appreciate the unfolding action happening all around you. That would take away from the entertainment, mystery and dazzlingly poetic movement and expression of actors Ayesha Fazal and Dominic Coffey.

The animation springing up all over the walls gives it the feel of hi-tec video art. You actually feel as if you’re in some experimental film coming to life all around you with the actors leading you into and away from the animation from all angles and with an energy that will have your head spinning. Later, the change of pace and spirit is a metaphor for the challenges of human connection. A five-star production!

Petrichor – Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London, E15. Dec 8 -12

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