The audience was met with an earplug dispenser as they were escorted to the first part of the journey to KlangHaus On Air. We were asked to present our sensible footwear and hand in our bags so that we could avoid harm on our journey. With mentions of ducking and crouching, pleas to avoid pushing buttons and a warning to avoid getting too close to the edge of the roof it was understandable that curiosity and confusion was rife through the audience before we even reached the cloakroom.
KlangHaus on Air is a post-dramatic, immersive, musical, visual and theatrical production set in the roof of the Royal Festival Hall – in a maze of air vents, pipes and cavernous hallways. KlangHaus is the brainchildren of alternative music group The Neutrinos and artist Sal Pittman. Before we began our journey the audience were assured that they would be taken care of by the friendly guides throughout the production. We were all taken up through several flights of stairs. Heavy doors and unplastered walls passed us by as we entered the private areas of the Festival Hall. There was a booming drum echoing through the halls and once that subsided, around the next corner sat an unknown subdued man singing to us acappella, with an air of Willy Wonka in his solemn introduction. This unusual introduction to our first member of cast was only the tip of the iceberg for the obscurity of the evening.
The audience were relatively free to roam among the pipes and the pillars, searching for the best angle to get up close and personal with the Neutrinos, or examine a projection that lured them into the world of KlangHaus. With little divulged in the production description, there was room to lift the audience out of their comfort zone and get up close and personal in this industrial space. Forgetting that you were in one of London’s largest performance venues, in amongst the metal and cobwebs, the audience were invited to create their own experience in this off beat setting.
Karen Reilly, the lead singer of The Neutrinos, was both terrifying and endearing with her mesmerising vocals. The range of music covered was everything from folk to heavy metal and you certainly had no means of predicting what may arise next. The array of musical instruments, synths and equipment from room to room was absorbing and sometimes distracting.
An extravagant and unusual sensory experience, KlangHaus on Air will be an experience on the individual, perhaps not to everyone’s tastes. The best approach to it would be to just enjoy and let go, what’s the point in trying to make sense of this world, you have no control of what lies around the corner anyway.
KlangHaus On Air will be on at the Southbank centre until the 29 July. For further information please see the Southbank Centre website.