As live venues closed around the world, digital creativity propelled theatre through a new world of possibility — and our various screens saw some truly incredible adaptations to the challenge of that new normal. However, true to their name, New Perspectives Theatre have rather reached into a more classic media catalogue to find new ways to reach audiences from a distance.
In their new ‘postcard drama’, Dare To Look Down, audiences go about their daily lives as a series of six postcards are set to land on their doorstep, across a month. The deliveries take the recipient on a ride through history and into the future, from 1896 to 2026, and six characters offer us a small and stirring pinch of their life. While the characters remain scattered across time, each narrative revolves around a perspective on the niche context of our ‘beloved’ national theme park Alton Towers.
Naturally holding contexts of time, place, and relationship, postcards are a clever and charmingly kitsch tool for setting a theatrical scene. We know them to bond people from a distance by sharing tokenistic, pocket-size anecdotes and ‘wish you were here’-s — a timely sentiment for 2021 audiences. Each Dare To Look Down postcard squeezes in a good amount of historical and cultural context (whether textually, or visually in the detail of the images.) This is only sometimes at the detriment of maintaining a personal tone.
Perhaps purely at the fault and mercy of the postman, I received most of my instalments on consecutive days, rather than extended over the month, as was promised. A little wanting in opportunities for reflection, anticipation, and surprise, perhaps my unexpectedly rushed experience of Dare To Look Down reveals the surprisingly high stakes of exploring such analogue forms of immersive theatre.
The texts on the reverse of each postcard, from the handwriting and doodles to the voices that whisper through them, manage to hold a lot of character. With each small material artefact in my hands, I feel a drawn-out intimacy in the act of carefully deciphering scribbled messages in familiar tones. I’m addressed clearly and cast in a different role as I read each new one — even if the sticker with my printed address on it does steal from the authentic feeling.
There’s a supernatural thread running through the cards, too, that traces various links, reappearances, and relations between the characters separated in time. While fairly loaded with cliche, these little hauntings marry well with the theme park thrill of the story.
Classic yet unique in its form, and intimate yet ambitious in its story, Dare To Look Down pitches brave possibilities for distanced, doorstep drama.
‘Dare To Look Down’ runs from 27 October 2021. For more
information, see New Perspectives Website.