Review: AND THE BIRDS FELL FROM THE SKY

Experience theatre in a completely unexpected way

By Adam Tonking

Created by theatre director Silvia Mercuriali and filmmaker Simon Wilkinson, And The Birds Fell From The Sky is somewhere between amusement park ride, film, and nightmare.

In more traditional forms of theatre, the audience is invited to experience the story on their own terms. In And The Birds Fell From The Sky, you are pushed into the centre of the action, and given new eyes and ears – you’re forced to experience the story as if you are in it, not merely witnessing it. Your senses have been kidnapped, which seems appropriate as it appears that you have been kidnapped by a car full of clowns.

Am I being too vague, too abstract? I went into this performance with very little certainty about how it was all going to work, and the delicious fear of the unknown only builds in the foyer as you remember small pieces of information – there are only two people in each audience, you will be sitting in a wheelchair – while strange sounds shake the floor from the next room, and you read the warnings on the wall that say things like “People with claustrophobia may experience difficulties with the performance…”

Then you’re led into a small room and given video goggles and earphones, and told to follow any instructions very carefully…

Clearly, this is an experience like no other. The narrative comes at you like a dream – you’re in this car full of clowns, you have a task to perform – and hints at a subtext about the nature of experience, while the experience itself is given to you through all five of your senses.

It’s fascinating, overwhelming, and thrilling. The word “immersive” seems to have been designed for a show like this. Wilkinson and Mercuriali have created an astounding and innovative theatre experience.

And The Birds Fell From The Sky is on at the Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne; Wednesday 29th February till Sunday 18th March 2012.

The show runs every 15 minutes between Wed – Fri, 2.30pm – 4.30pm & 6pm – 9pm; Sat 1pm – 4pm & 5.30pm – 8.30pm; Sun, 1pm – 4pm & 5.30pm – 7.30pm. 20 minutes no interval. Book at www.artshouse.com.au or call (03) 9322 3713.

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