Review - Punchdrunk Theatre -The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable 3

Review – Punchdrunk Theatre -The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable

This is a giant warren of a production which burrows through an old sorting office near Paddington Station. Staged by the award-winning Punchdrunk Theatre Company, it takes the audience down a giant rabbit hole that is a ghostly film studios set across four floors. A cast of 40 is scattered through a series of rooms enacting various scenes evoking the faded glories of Hollywood dreams that end in despair.

The audience wanders at will, discovering costume areas, production offices and props rooms lovingly assembled with dusty details true to their 60’s heritage. This vast set is the biggest star in what is a confusing but clever production. If you were baffled by BBC’s  Sherlock  – Baker Street is just a magnifying glass throw up the road – then prepare to be puzzled by Punchdrunk.

You are given an eerie mask and a short leaflet on entering which briefly explains the parallel stories of two couples centred around Temple Studios. Both tales end in murder but you may not catch any hint of the mayhem if you are in a different part of the studios when the deadly deeds take part. The sinister grey masks fuse the audience in an anonymous interface with the cast so it is hard to tell who is who. Dreamlike choreography enhances the blur between reality and the strange studio netherworld. After a while I didn’t worry about what happened I just know something would.

The Drowned Man is a fascinating, unique and highly recommended piece of theatre. But if you end up not waving but drowning in confusion head for Studio 3 and drown your sorrows…mine’s a Manhattan.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.