This Mouthful Of A New Play At Royal Court Theatre Is An Interactive Revelation
Fresh from the Edinburgh International Festival, Tim Crouch's Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation is resurrected at the Royal Court Studio. Despite its unwieldy, difficult to remember title, the play is an indelible experience.
Crouch's reputation as a rule-breaking theatre-maker precedes him, and there's no shortage of novelty here. The audience sit onstage under bright lights in a tight ring of chairs. Each is given a copy of the play-text to read along and at times participate in the performance. We are all both audience and players in this experiential and experimental piece, which at times feels more like a congregation than an audience.
Crouch, together with illustrator Rachana Jadhav, explores the parallels between theatre and religion in a wry suggestion that both entail the manipulation of 'a group of people to sit in a place together and believe in something that isn't true'.
The story itself isn't quite as gripping as the way in which it is told. Thematically dense and open to multiple interpretations, it examines authorship, pre-determinism, shadow of climate change cataclysm and parental control — though none of these in sufficient depth to produce any particularly meaningful insights. The telling is different: it embodies the playfulness we have come to expect from Crouch, who in turn puts a lot of trust in his audience not to muck it up.
This is a play that not only challenges you to think but demands that you participate. It’s certainly not one for those who’d rather settle into a dark stall and be entertained. But then, that's not what you go and see a Tim Crouch for.
Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS. Tickets from £15, until 21 September 2019.
Last Updated 06 September 2019