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The Hidden Review: Complicite’s The Encounter Theatre Review


"We are always mistaking stories for reality"
The Hidden Review has watched Complicite’s The Encounter.
All he is allowed is a few microphones, empty space and some everyday items, yet McBurney immerses us in an overwhelming theatrical experience that turns up many questions. This show leaves the audience overrun with thoughts and questions which makes this review rather tricky, because of McBurney’s interest in the subjective experience.
The magic of The Encounter is established early on, the technology is used expertly and credited to Gareth Fry’s sound design which captures, tricks and consumes the audience's sense. Wearing headphones throughout makes for a truly immersive experience.
There is an extremely playful relationship with the audience. McBurney’s trickery and misleading games do not distance the audience, if anything it draws us in and tells us that this is a show about the Mayoruna tribe as much as telling stories.
McBurney becomes Loren McIntyre in front of us, giving a brief introduction to the Mayoruna peoples on the shores of the Amazon. Through strange communication, and mystical journeys to ‘the beginning’, McBurney begins to piece together strange recollections.
The process of the show is as much the intrigue of the show as the story that is told. An undeniably subtle, rich script leaves us with questions about time, experience, and subjective memory. There is something inexplicable about the magic of theatre, that McBurney seems to have unearthed.
McBurney shows excellent balance, it is philosophical without becoming confusing, immersive yet meta and compelling without sensationalising. This balance facilitates McBurney’s phenomenal storytelling, blended with questions, ideas and constant self-examination.
This is a show about so much and yet I wonder if it is about anything. What I am saying is merely what is going on in my head and the person next to me thinks completely differently, but I would argue that this is the sign of good theatre. I was consumed, played with and challenged from beginning to end, this show is a masterful deconstruction of storytelling, memory and time.
Hidden fire stars 10/10 ⭐️

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