We dart across the road in front of irritated taxi drivers; the girl with the gold bag pauses uncertainly at the corner of the street. She turns and starts walking away. We follow, rushing to keep up but not getting too close, conscious of our own predatory behaviour. A man on a bike rides past and starts shouting at her, obscenely harassing her in the street. We hold back, a little fearful, not sure how to react.
This is Infliction, an immersive performance set on the streets of Shoreditch and in the flat of the girl with the gold bag, Amy Wells (Megan Maczko). Her world is disturbing but compelling: there’s an evil twin, extreme paranoia and the creepy events that start to happen to her. Influenced in part by the murder which took place in the very building used in the performance, Director Bethany Ann McDonald invites us to reflect on the horrific events which intrude on our urban lives with a terrible frequency, and the way we as a society react to protect ourselves emotionally. The result is an almost comical horror movie experience which – unsettlingly – never feels quite credible, right down to the pale red fake blood. It’s a clever a piece that subtly comments on the void between imagination and reality. Not far into the performance, as we’re waiting to follow Amy across a road, a car drives past, nearly soaking Amy and the participants standing closest to her, and for a moment we can’t distinguish theatre from real life. Amy’s world weaves and blends with the “real” world of the streets, mocking us and playing with the boundaries between theatrical performance and life.
Maczko creates a convincing portrait of a young woman new to the area, suffering with the common urban disease of loneliness, and brilliantly transmitting the nervous energy of paranoia. In all, Infliction is an immensely enjoyable experience, although it’s hard to escape the feeling that as a performance it is ultimately novel but insubstantial. We chase a girl across the streets of Shoreditch until we enter her flat where a few weird scenes are played out for our entertainment. We’re invited into this story, this world, and amused for an hour or so, but what remains after that? That said, it’s an excellent starting point created by a talented and inspired group of people and perhaps, with development, Infliction could become something much more than merely the sum of its parts.
Infliction played until Sunday 21st October at a secret location in Shoreditch. For more information, visit the website.