This isn’t really a review, but more of a plea to please watch this before it disappears off of the Complicite youtube channel next week. So before you read this, unless you are reading post March 8th, watch the performance above, and watch with headphones.
Based on the experiences of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre, Simon McBurney transports the audience to the depths the Amazon rainforest exploring the meaning of time and presence through an incredible soundscape created onstage. McBurley is a natural and captivating storyteller who, although explains all the tech behind the show before it starts, manages to make you forget where you are, and surrounds you with a highly visual environment that builds rapidly in just over two hours. It is an intimate experience that is beautiful and engaging and shows such craftsmanship both on stage and off.
There is clearly an awareness of the show being accessible to people who watch it outside of a theatre environment and this aural experience is one that can be experienced outside of a communal space with just as much clarity and absorption. I watched it in a duvet den on a very cold Saturday afternoon at home with a cup of tea and it was an incredibly satisfying experience, one I wish I could have more often with live theatre.
There isn’t anything that can take away from watching a performance with 500 other people around you experiencing it all at the same time, in a setting often free from distraction. But the future of live streaming is exciting and making theatre more accessible to those who are unable to access these spaces, or afford premium ticket prices. The Encounter is a complex exploration of digital innovation with both a theatre audience, and those who may be watching at home in mind.
And as the the shelf life is limited to only a week online, it gives a sense of urgency which I find very useful. It won’t be tabbed or stored in bookmarks, there is no time for “I’ll watch that later”, much like a live show you either watch it when it was intended to be watch, or not at all. A great piece of theatre, and so happy it was live streamed for a more diverse and wider audience to experience McBurney’s brilliant mind.
The Encounter is available to stream until March 8th. Missed the live stream? Showing at HOME 16 – 19 March 2016.