The latest immersive theatre adventure saw my theatre group return for another evening at Southwark’s Babel Towers for the second and third rings of ImmerCity’s The Three Rings of Cirque – entitled Feast and Parade. The first ring, Birthday, we visited on a separate occasion – and you can read about that here.
For this evening, there are two different performances back to back, with a brief intermission. There is an agenda for the evening’s activities that does well to break the evening into manageable chunks, and allows the audience a brief leg stretch from the cramped basement.
Upon arrival guests are met with a variety of activities to partake in– you can play black jack, disappear into a back room to join the circus, or write and then recite a poem – no pressure. It allows for a jovial atmosphere. Then the storytelling begins with a lovely rendition of 1001 Arabian Nights with Madame Mist again excelling at storytelling. She’s charming, captivating and delightful to watch.
This story is handled well, an impressive feat given that it involves telling a story within a story. The actors have to switch from character to character, and not only is it surprisingly easy to follow, it’s very clever and funny as well.
The second part of the evening is far darker and also – regretfully – much more difficult to follow along. It’s a story of betrayal and death which appears to blur the line between the storytelling and the members of the circus. The trouble is that the line is too far blurred to accurately keep up with the narrative. The story is from Japan, and tells the story of Izanagi and Izanami – and the similarity of the names does nothing for my ability to follow the tale – and involves 100 candles being lit and 100 ghost stories being told. At the extinguishing of the final candle, all the ghosts from the stories are set to appear.
The eerie atmosphere of this last story is still rather well done, and a large amount of the story takes place with the lights entirely off – which is an odd, but effective method of conveying the darkness of the tale.
As an overall evening, the production was good fun – and even though it ends up at over 3 hours running time, it was very well paced. The activities, audience interaction, and sub-stories of the evenings were good and the three rings each had merit. However, the first ring, Birthday, was a stronger showing then the collective three rings put together—and walking away confused about the last ring left the wrong kind of mystery to mull over as a conclusion.
The London run has finished, but you can find out more about ImmerCity here.