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Theatre Preview: The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable

20th January 2014

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It describes itself as “hallucinatory”; a “unique personal journey” that asks the question “have you ever seen nature inside out?” and promises to explore “the darkness of the Hollywood dream” – in a mysteriously condemned 1940s former film studio next to Paddington Station.

It is the late 1960s and the place is Los Angeles – a seductive hinterland where young hopefuls mix with film stars, illusion and reality are increasingly blurred, and an all-consuming darkness is bubbling just underneath the surface.

So, the stage is set for The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, an immersive physical theatre performance staged by Punchdrunk and The National Theatre in the secretive Temple Studios (briefly a filmmaking powerhouse; closed down overnight in 1962) for the next two months.

Set over four levels, Punchdrunk’s promenade performance tells two parallel but strikingly similar stories of Old Hollywood, and requires that its audience wears masks throughout - maybe to increase the sense of disorientation.

As is the nature of internationally acclaimed Punchdrunk, The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable will “reject the passive obedience usually expected of audiences” and blur the line between audience and performer.

The National Theatre advises that, in order to get the most out of the continuously moving performance, you either go alone or be prepared to lose your companions:

“Your curiosity is key. The more you explore, the richer your experience will be. Delve in, be bold, and immerse yourself.”

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable is directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle and is taking place at Temple Studios until March. Book tickets here. Suitable only for those aged 16+

Look out for our review of The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable next week.

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