Punchdrunk: The Drowned Man

Punchdrunk Drowned ManWe went to The Drowned Man last night. In spite of having worked with the production, I had so many surprises – it is just not feasible to know the whole thing. That makes me squeal with delight inside. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love the scale and ambition of the vision, and how it is given physical form. It gives me a great sense of freedom to know that I can roam without running out of new riddles and discoveries for quite some time.

I had one of those incredible lucky draw Punchdrunk shows, and was drawn into direct interaction three (!) times. Very exciting. The last one was the only time when we lost each other in the crowd – we managed to stick together (I know, you’re not supposed to, but we both wanted to) through the whole thing otherwise, and I loved watching him find his feet, and ‘get’ the follow-a-character thing. We followed  Claude Estee at full clip for quite some time, which was fantastic. Then evil Mr. Stanford was also great to follow, and we also tracked Alice Estee, and several of the ‘actors’ roaming the sets.

It is not a traditional theatre experience. You almost need to develop your own method as an audience member (see some handy tips here), but if you do, and throw yourself into the experience with the same gusto as the people creating it, you are richly rewarded. If sitting back in a comfy chair is the only way you want your entertainment served, this may not be for you. It is physical in every way. And if you like riddles and mysteries, you have plenty to grapple with. All those things make it work for me.

I will write much more about this, but it will probably be in more formal ways, for my academic work. But don’t be surprised if notes pop up here now and then.

In the meantime, this review sums up the way their work divides people. It is pretty spot on.But if in doubt, go. You’ll kick yourself in years to come for missing this truly ambitious theatre company of lovely, crazy, committed visionaries.Punchdrunk Drowned Man


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