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UNREAL CITY

immersive theatre · 2cents theatre group · Ages 16+ · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by ROBERT FULLER

June 06, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

The acting was great. The actors recited T.S. Eliot’s verse like they were born doing it. The complexity of this show was marvelous; it’s got so many different tracks and tracks within tracks that you could go several times and never see the same show twice. Using the streets of Hollywood and various random, unexpected buildings as its stage was wonderfully done. There’s something thrilling about being lead down a dark street by a character, not knowing where you’re going or whom you’re going to meet, or even who is an actor and who is just a passerby; or about helping an injured character stumble his way down a sidewalk and seeing random people staring at us, not knowing what is going on.

Some reviewers are complaining that the story line never comes back around to the Hollow Man who was loyal to the Queen, but that didn’t bother me. For me, it was never about any overarching story, but about the people we met on our journey and their own individual stories. I was actually relieved, because when we got the speech in the beginning about the Hollow Men, I inwardly groaned a little, because it sounded like we were going to have to play detective and interview characters to find the culprit, like a murder mystery party, and I was so not in the mood for that. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case. And anyway, it seemd pretty obvious by the end who the Hollow Man in question was.

What I didn't like

There was one point near the end of the show when I was following a character through the city streets along with one other audience member. This audience member had been given a set of headphones to listen to, but I had not, and the actor wasn’t speaking, so for about ten minutes I was just walking in silence with nothing going on. We even walked in a circle and back tracked at one point. I felt like I’d done something wrong, that I’d followed the wrong character and wasn’t supposed to be there, especially since, prior to this, I had been following another character who was supposed to be taking me to see a third character, which never happened. It turned out that the other character ended up at the same place we went to, so I guess it didn’t matter which one I followed, but it was still a weird hiccup in the show.

My overall impression

I loved this show. The scope and ambition of this thing is astounding, and the way Eliot’s words are used in the service of a commentary on politics and socio-economic injustice and class conflicts is beautifully done. This is a show that will continue to haunt me.

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