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A CurtainUp London Review
The Boy Who Climbed Out Of His Face
Breathing life into a former dock and next to the O2, theatre and nightlife company Shunt have set up for six week at The Jetty in Greenwich. The show which is held in shipping containers will take small groups into strange scenarios. Inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, bare footed visitors will carry their shoe boxes with them. It was fun watching people with large shoes trying to fit them into small cardboard boxes.
Some of the actors will wear those rubber masks which make their mouths look as if someone has slashed their mouth and left a hideous scar. They are undoubtedly creepy and because of the wigs and face masks they are impossible to engage with as even their eyes seem pinched by the masks.
The first one we meet says, "You have come the wrong way but you can't go back." The first container has an examination of the footwear boxes. Through a corridor which narrow like Alice in Wonderland and you seem to get taller as the room shrinks. To a nightclub where a man in mask and wig grooves to some music on a pole, "Don't touch the pole!" he says possessively. He starts a chain of "I give up"by handing the microphone and some brave souls refuse to give up.
The best journey is into a jungle, over the sand and on a wobbly plank bridge and at those moments I could believe I was in an episode of Lost. We sit in dark container listening to the sounds of the sea and mewing seagulls and it is impossible not to think of those 35 asylum seekers found banging on the sides of a similar shipping container last week in Essex.
One of us is blindfolded and sits at the end of a long table shaped like a coffin. Again the cruel news images came to me of John Foley the journalist beheaded by Islamist militants in Syria. Finally we stumble into daylight and the huge set piece of what is more art installation than theatre as we know it. This is impressive and I shall not spoil the surprise for anyone. But what does it mean? I have no idea.
The views of the river from the Jetty are magnificent and the pop up food and bar are excellent. They serve delicious food, sustainable fish and chips with samphire and ice cream made from Kraken rum and raisins. The property developers Knight Dragon (1000 new homes) are funding this immersive theatre space. The Shunt show is there for just six weeks but sadly it looks as if they have missed the best of the summer weather but they have provided blankets and it is chilly next to the river but worth it for the waterscape.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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