Saturday, June 15

Imaginarium – Dazed New World Festival

This imaginatively named theatre is part of the Dazed New World Festival, put together by Applecarts Arts, based in East London. The festival will explore other themes of social injustice and mental health.

A festival that aims to explore some of the more difficult conversations we’re having with narratives that challenge you to think out of the box and try to make sense of the current climate which is giving live theatre some of the biggest difficulties it ever has.

It’s live streamed on Vimeo, and apart from a series of instructions received preshow there’s no indication of what to expect from tonight’s performance. Although it does say your bedroom will be transformed into a new playground which sounds very enticing.

The creatives behind Imaginarium are Out of the Blue Theatre and it’s their debut. Out of the Blue are Haylin Cai and Tingying Dong with Harry Dean taking the role of narrator. It’s very puzzling that you need a glass of water it suggests. This is what is good about this show, it excels in the new, the imaginative, the quirky. If you want something safe and predictable its’ not for you.

His role is to guide you through the night’s interactive performance, his soothing dulcet tones, encourage you to explore the confines of your bedroom and see objects as if for the first time. You use your headphones so you can walk about and are not restricted. But there are disappointingly, no visuals. This is in mind to take you away from the internet and staring at a screen.

It could be argued that the visuals are all in your head so it’s up to you to make them as vivid or as plain as you feel necessary. Out of the Blue are taking a brave step, they are not shying away from the difficult questions that are thrown up by the pandemic. They acknowledge 2020 has been a time of house arrest.  Also, that we may need to exercise our imaginations.

It is a highly surreal experience from start to finish. Imaginarium makes theatre very accessible. You could listen to it in your room, on a train journey in a hospital bed. It serves to make you think and it is inherently therapeutic and comforting at the same time. You are infact in a virtual world, without the visuals. (well you are required to create them yourself). The best bit was being 1,555 floors up in a sky high elevator.

What this company is doing is ground-breaking. They’ve thought carefully how they can produce a piece that is relevant and different, whilst being aware how much humans are being affected by the incredibly trying times we find ourselves in. They should make more inspirational work.

Reviewer: Rachel Foster

Reviewed: 15th October 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★