Immersive Theatre Puts Audience In Analyst's Chair
Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆
Less an immersive theatrical experience, more a cinematic group therapy session unwittingly sprung on us audience members. That's what we felt about Mountaineering, on emerging from this otherwise entertaining, playful — and at times funny — evening, from interactive theatre company non zero one.
The show ponders the big life questions: goals and how we achieve them (if at all). It’s a rather huge, perhaps insurmountable, topic to attempt — but the night invites us to try via headphones and a cinema that fits snugly into the Roundhouse’s intimate studio space. This set-up is most successful when it ventures beneath the surface of our unconscious decision making. At the start, we’re behind the wheel on a simulated motorway listening to late night hits on 107.4 Phoenix FM. This induces the sort of reflective, mesmeric state that tunes into some sort of primal life frequency and objectifies it — really interesting stuff.
But when we have to ask each other questions about our lives and how we made the biggest decisions, it seems too clumsily handled for so sensitive a topic. Staring into an audience member’s eyes as they held up their note on a landmark life moment felt like a weird psychotherapy session. Taped interviews with children about their life dreams are sweet, but ultimately only prompt questions about what we were meant to draw from them.
Mountaineering tackles a massive subject that perhaps bamboozled the creators as much as it did the audience. “Not everyone has to set out towards an end goal, and it feels alienating to suggest this is the default,” says the programme. More powerful perhaps, would have been to critique the very notion of goals, or of climbing to reach the top of an idealised social ladder. But in trying to be all things to all people, this night left us feeling like our depths had been disturbed with little gained in return.
Mountaineering is at the Roundhouse's Studio Theatre until 15 February. Tickets from £15. Londonist attended on a complimentary press night ticket.
Last Updated 05 February 2015