Taking the ‘anywhere’ in Anywhere Festival and running with it, Underground Productions transforms an ordinary house into the scene of a psychological drama that leaves the audience wanting more.
Before the show once the audience had all arrived, one of the show’s directors, Alex Letts, gave us a brief briefing on what was about to happen. Throughout the show the cast would split up and go to different areas in and around the house, and we could choose which of the characters we wanted to follow. After a request to have us stay within the orange tape, the show began.
It follows five friends who realise that a sixth, Mark, has gone missing. As the story unfolds, information from all of their pasts comes to light, turning them against each other and casting doubt on close relationships.
The script itself was very well written. Letting the audience decide which parts of the story they saw could have felt like a gimmick, but it felt natural. Whether you wanted to see what one person was hiding or if two people would fight it out, you moved between groups like you would at a party. The large house that served as the venue ensure that it was never too crowded, though at times it was a little snug.
There was one moment when the ‘choose your own adventure’ idea did backfire, when the scene inside finished before the scene outside had concluded. However the actors handled this splendidly, staying in character and allowing the story to pick back up as soon as the others were in the room.
More than anything else, it was wonderful to listen to the audience as they mingled after the performance was over. Theories about where Mark had gone were flying, and no two people seemed to have the same thoughts. It really is a show that encourages discussion.
Part of me wants to see the show again to see the parts that I missed, but I also like the idea that I had a unique experience in the space that lends itself to further thought and reflection.
If you are looking for a show that does something well outside the traditional theatre experience, BLISS is something that you really should check out.