Thank you, Punchdrunk, for saving the West End Whingers the bother of writing a review. What a lot of people don’t realise is that whinging is a very time-consuming business: crafting and honing our reviews can take anywhere up to 9 minutes. But this was much faster.
Punchdrunk, you may recall, put together Faust last year in conjunction with the National Theatre. On that occasion it took place in an archive warehouse in the East End. Now they have taken over Battersea Arts Centre to present Edgar Allen Poe‘s The Masque of the Red Death.
Thankfully, it’s basically the same thing, so we can just repeat repeat the Faust review with some amendments and some
One of the benefits of Punchdrunk’s “audience empowerment” policy is that you can pop into the bar for a drink and a break whenever and as often as you like.
The downside is there’s a lot of work involved wandering around five floors of the
condemned factory site Battersea Arts Centre to track down the action which is scattered around and moves about the site.
But it’s well worth the effort. The sets are splendid again, the darkness again atmospheric and the action again engaging.
So engaging, in fact, that Andrew found himself called upon to take part in the action on two occasions.
It’s an extraordinary experience again and difficult to say more without spoiling it unless you saw Faust in which case you don’t really need to go, but follow our top tips and you’ll have a great time.
Our top tips
- Don’t go in a group – you will again find it impossible to keep together (you will find out why!)
- If you do go in a group, arrange to meet (in the bar, obviously) at a certain time.
- Wear distinctive clothing. But not, as in Andrew’s case, a tutu.
- Forget about the story again . It’s a bit of a red herring again and you would have great difficulty finding all the elements, let alone seeing them in the right order again.
- Follow the noise again . If it’s quiet where you are, go elsewhere.
- Wear sensible shoes again. Phil found it very difficult in his stilettos.
- Don’t take a bag; there’s no cloakroom again. Shame on you BAC.
- Don’t be afraid to open doors and be nosy again.
- Contact lenses would again be preferable to glasses if you still wear them.
Be in the basement at 8.15 or 9.45 for the finale. (The whole thing is played twice)Stay until about 9.45-10.00 for the finale. In fact, you will find it difficult to leave.
- If, like Andrew, you start to feel claustrophobic and do want to leave before the end don’t ask one of the “actors” guarding the doors the way out, they won’t speak to you but gesture towards an exit; Andrew lost his rag (he carries it with him everywhere) demanding, “Please, don’t mime at me, just tell me where the exit is!”
- There’s a real cat.
- There’s a little room where you can take your mask off and a woman reads you the first few paragraphs of “The Oblong Box” but not the whole thing. Phil laughed a lot but eventually the woman nodded off (as Phil so often does in Andrew’s company).
- The undoubted highlight was the mind-reading act which went horribly wrong when they had the misfortune to alight on Phil as the subject. Failing to locate – never mind read – Phil’s mind was, of course, an ambition on a scale Punchdrunk had failed to plan for and it all went horribly wrong.
- Lovely to see one of the Stanleys from The Day Trip again.
- Smuggle a bottle of red wine in your bag (that’ll teach them not to provide a cloakroom) – they ran out of red wine by 9pm, but that was understandable really, as the Whingers spent an awful long time in the bar.
- Helen Smith‘s daughter contributed to the props in the perfumery and they stole the show in our opinion.
- Don’t go if you really, really enjoyed Faust on the basis that it was so different and fresh and amazing and you had never seen anything like it because this is basically more of the same.
- Don’t be put off by our list of top tips.