How would you react in a crisis? That’s the question at the centre of Eden Gate, an immersive promenade performance by Produced Moon.
It’s Edinburgh. 2017. The human race is being ravaged by a deadly virus which has reduced the population to less than 300,000. Crikey. It certainly requires a leap of faith, but with the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa it at least feels like a timely provocation.
The piece itself takes place across several rooms at the entrance to a medical facility called Eden Gate. Set up amid the terror and turmoil of the outbreak, the facility claim to offer a sanctuary from the deadly virus and an opportunity to rebuild civilisation. But the more we find out about the organisation, the more we begin to question its intentions.
The task of any immersive piece is to establish a clear scenario in which audiences have adequate scope to roam and intervene. Eden Gate, for the most part, manages this well. The clear framework of the initial screening process offers a useful introduction to the style of the work as we find ourselves donning wrists bands, identification badges and filling in questionnaires. At this point, several audience members are given sly snippets of information which they can chose what to do with as we progress into the next room. Here, surrounded by medical paraphernalia, we are tasked with further screening tasks and questionnaires. Just as it is beginning to feel like a midweek trip to the doctors, there’s a revolt. An idea. Some resistance. A decision has to be made. A timer is set and we are left to sort it out amongst ourselves.
The company enjoyed a lively audience on Saturday afternoon, with many of the cast members being aggressively probed on their aims and intentions. Although the piece invites this sort of interaction, many of the cast seemed to find the rigour of the interaction a bit bewildering and they didn’t always have adequate answers at hand. Some audiences members, no doubt, will push the inherent interactivity of the piece further than others and it’s important that the company hones its improvisational skills over the course of the run to ensure that ham-fisted responses don’t detract from the theatrical experience it is trying to create.
Nevertheless, Eden Gate facilitates a rich exponent of the communal act of democratic reasoning and there is something genuinely thrilling about making such a knotty moral decision together, no matter how farfetched the implications.
Eden Gate is at C Nova (Venue 145) until 25 August. For more information and tickets go to the EdFringe website.