The Burnt City ★★★★ 1 Cartridge Place | Until September 24, 2023

In its latest venture, the UK's leading immersive theatre company, Punchdrunk, has transformed over 100,000 square feet of space into an exploration experience that is loosely based around the story of the last days of Troy before it falls to the Greeks. Audiences are invited to wander through a series of strange panoramas that involve dance, mime and references to the classic story. Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter in order to get good winds to sail to Troy, and the revenge of his wife Clytemnestra are referenced, but these are only a starting point for the audience's journey. People are encouraged to wander freely from place to place and can either weave their own narrative or simply experience a wild variety of strange scenes that exist behind obscure doors. The backstreets of Troy are reimagined as a series of tableaux that for us recalled the murky atmosphere of a film noir. The goings-on have a wonderfully sleazy and sinister feel, and an ahistorical reality is created that invokes not only the ancient myths, but also some current video games and various dystopian films. Although there are timed entries, participants can spend as long as they want exploring this maze of wonders. And, if you do get lost or need a break, there's always a staff member nearby to guide you back to the lounge for a respite from the sensory overload. The bar turns out to be a great place to relax between forays into Punchdrunk's cleverly constructed challenge to the imagination, and its entertainment is first-rate and suitably offbeat. Three categories of ticket are available (standard, premium or VIP), but there are also other options from as low as £25. While it is certainly possible to enjoy The Burnt City as a solo experience, our advice would be to get a group of friends together or the gang from work and share this unique immersive adventure.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Julian Abrams.

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