Broadcasted theatre is a concept that has been floating around the scenes for a few years now and is a very modern interpretation of theatre. Broadcasting live or pre-recorded theatre allows a large scope of audiences to view many productions that they would otherwise not have the privilege of seeing due to factors such as travel or price. Whilst it is still in the early stages of it’s development, it is largely evolving and this is the perfect time to be experimenting with such imaginative ideas.
This is why By The End Of Us is such an interesting piece; its use of the fresh idea of broadcasted theatre merges with an innovative twist of using the actors as players in a game which are controlled by us, the audience. Rather than having a piece of theatre streamed to the comfort of your own cinema, for example, the actors are in another location and their images are streamed to us in a studio space at the Southwark Playhouse. Being in The Tiny studio space created a small and unified atmosphere in which we as the “multiplayer” had to vote for the actions that were then performed by the character, and therefore shaped the outcome of the game. Although there must be a loose structure to the storyline, we ultimately determine the outcome, making each performance fresh every time it is performed.
There is also a single player in the other room, who is directing the agent (and the lens in which we see the action). This person has a large role to play in the piece and will experience a totally alternative experience altogether. We hear the single player lead the agent around the abandoned building, commanding instructions which I can only imagine must be extremely difficult to gauge as they know little about the environment or the situation and have to figure these things out pretty much instantaneously. The thrill of trying to beat the player became quite exciting as an audience member, as we really had a lot of control due to being able to hear these directions.
It is difficult to comment on the acting in this piece, as it is relatively improvised due to the new demands being given each time, but I really appreciate the realism that the actors used in terms to relating to video game characters. They paused in dialogue slightly to allow demands to be given, and made this seem ordinary for the situation, unlike in real life where pausing for such a long time without responding would be quite an odd experience. Xander Edwards and Dan Thompson demonstrated this very strongly and it really added to the overall effect of the piece.
Despite a few technical flaws, this production, or at least the concept, has some very strong ideas and I really wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this type of experience in the future. Block Stop have created a piece as they “want to enrich people’s lives through play and interactive experiences”, which I think is very fitting for today’s society, and may introduce a new niche into the world of theatre. Once these screws have been tightened, I would expect concepts such as this to be a very widely respected form of performance art, and I think Block Stop are definitely ones to keep an eye on to see what else they can think of to enhance and evolve.
By The End Of Us is playing at the The Southwark Playhouse until 7 November. For more information and tickets, see Southwark Playhouse.