BWW Review: THE CURIOUS VOYAGE, Secret Locations All Over London
This review is spoiler free.
Londoners may have seen a resurgence in immersive theatrical experiences recently, but Talk Is Free Theatre brings the concept to a whole new level with The Curious Voyage. The intercontinental three-day journey starts in Barrie, Canada, and lands in London, where the audience is taken on a quest to explore their darkest secrets.
The eight-hour-long London event is orchestrated to perfection. The public are initially split into groups and meet the different characters singularly, then they're all gathered together and led to the second section of the adventure, which culminates with the production of a secret musical (directed by Mitchell Cushman). Bear this is mind when booking with friends, as it's more likely than not that you'll be separated during the first act.
This is all part of the destabilisation of the public; in order to find themselves, they have to dig deeper and abandon their earthly personas. Agency and participation are the main drive in Daniele Bartolini's show, which relies heavily on its guests' inclination to grab the spotlight.
The director and creator gathers a diverse and charming cast who, through improvisation and scripted cues, accompany the teams out and about feeding them clues as well as distracting them from the real goal of the day. A brief bus ride will, eventually, take the crowd to a further secret area when the central event of the night takes place.
The musical is the icing on an already delicious cake. Cushman moves the scene around the unconventional location with fascinating and seamless direction choices. His cast is phenomenal and deliver defining performances of the iconic characters, only heightening the atmosphere of mystery that has pervaded the expedition since its start.
Even as the collaboration of two directors who essentially brought together two very different worlds, The Curious Voyage feels cohesive and solid. It does, however, leave a hint of unfinished matter and unsolved plot points in the hands of the audience. As they begin to disperse after the long day, there are still a few questions to be answered and there's a lingering craving for knowledge that the company doesn't fully satisfy.
A cast who exceeds expectations, clever writing and direction, and a remarkable and unanticipated musical production make the all-day experience a huge success that certainly rivals Punchdrunk on every level.