It’s always a slightly concerning sign when you’re sent “tests” to do before a theatre show. In the case of Invisible Treasure from production company fanSHEN, we were sent some optical illusions and a personality test. Presumably these were to get us “in the mood” for the production to follow, but in reality it seems like little more than a gimmick.
The show itself is…not really a show at all. We’re ushered into a white box of a room that provides the space for this “immersive theatre project”. The carpet is soft, a series of circles are cut out of it, coloured rectangles litter the walls, and a huge, seemingly omniscient, fluffy bunny sits ominously in the corner. A screen dictates instructions for each videogame-like level and it’s up to the audience of strangers to interpret these and perform certain tasks. These include feeding creatures projected on to the ceiling, stopping a noise, and dancing to different styles of music. All seem designed to ensure we lose our inhibitions and make fools of ourselves.
The best are those games that involve group participation and collaboration. One “bonus round” had us standing in shape formations from a circle to a star and it was up to us to arrange and organise ourselves. For others, though, the instructions were far too obscure and with little visual or aural feedback it was unclear exactly how to progress, no matter how relaxing the music was.
Also unclear is the point of it all. It’s meant to explore the ideas of teamwork and individual agency, but it all feels too vague and never gets to grips with any one theme. Moreover, how is this theatrical? Where is the performance? Or are we meant to be performing in our own bizarre show?
On exiting the box in the show’s final stage, the outside is covered in questions and we’re invited to inscribe our answers with marker pens. These vary from the heavily loaded (what can we do collaboratively that we can’t achieve alone?), to the philosophical (who is the rabbit?), to the open-ended (what next?). Indeed, what next? Clearly we’re meant to go away and think about our time in the box with the rabbit, to consider how we live our lives, our very existence.
Me? I went home for a cup of tea.
Watch: Invisible Treasure runs at The Ovalhouse until 14th November.
Photos: Cat Lee