Let us contemplate for a moment the purpose of theatre. Should it offer an escape from everyday life? Eke out a unique space between creator and audience? Shine light onto the parts of life that normally escape attention?
Now We Can Talk does all of this. As an audience member you will, quite literally, be led away from your everyday life and taken on a journey. The unusual piece is a result of collaboration between Lukus Robbins, a U.K. artist with a passion to explore technology in theatre, and five performers who saw the potential of the Treasury tunnels as a theatrical venue.
The show starts in the Medina Hotel Courtyard, where each audience member is given a flashlight and ushered down a dim staircase. I’ll admit that at this point, clutching my Cheap-as-Chips torch, I started to wonder how much I should trust these performers and their occupational health and safety advisers. Was heading into the depths of a pitch-black, stone-walled abyss really a good idea?
It was a wonderful idea.
Built to store gold, and originally linked for shelter purposes with other tunnels around the city, the chambers provide a strangely intimate setting for the piece. In the darkness and musty air, every sensation is amplified: from the sounds of people breathing or water dripping, to the hairs standing up on your arms. A more atmospheric location is hard to imagine.
Now We Can Talk is not the show for you if you are scared of the dark. It is definitely not the show for you if you would prefer to experience theatre from a comfortable seat in the back row, with Facebook open on your phone and your mind wandering. Now We Can Talk is sensory immersion and bumps in the dark. It is a merging of actor and audience; reality and fiction.
Art is a subjective experience and audience members will always bring their own attitudes and perceptions to a piece. Now We Can Talk takes this notion to an extreme level. Underlying the work is the idea that everybody has a story; and indeed, the intertwining between your story and the characters’ will define your experience. You’ll emerge from the tunnels blinking in the sunlight, still mentally absorbed in the piece and looking at the world around you a little differently. If nothing else, isn’t that what theatre should achieve?