Rising to city's unique theatrical challenge took my breath away
REVIEW of RESURGAM, Plymouth
To call it breathtaking would be an understatement, but it's the one word that accurately describes how it felt to take part in this unique, experimental entertainment devised by storyteller Hannah Wood.
Her quest to retrieve the fictional Lost Pearl of Plymouth, before the city was reclaimed by the sea, turned out to be a thrilling historical drama, a promenade performance, a gaming challenge, a bonding experience and a swashbuckling pirate party, all in one.
I was knocked out by the sheer scale and ambition of a project that carried some 350 curious explorers – in staggered (occasionally staggering!) parties of 12 – on a wholly immersive imaginative adventure steeped in the real heritage of the city.
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It was extraordinary how we all played out its plot on the streets, parks and coastal pathways, as well as inside significant buildings in the city, as everyday modern life went on around us. It felt as if we were extras in a fantasy action movie.
The calibre of performance was first class, enhanced by atmospheric sets and expert ghoulish make-up, all delivered by a terrific team gathered by Ollie Oakenshield and Angelina Boscarelli of Cornwall's Rogue Theatre.
Performing arts students and volunteer novices stood strongly alongside seasoned professionals like Hollywood actress Jaala Pickering and familiar faces like Dean Nolan and Ben Dyson, seen in productions by Kneehigh and Miracle.
I was heartened by the spirit that evolved among my fellow Lost Pearl hunters in our little gang – many who had never met each other before – as we translated clues and followed instructions sent to our mobile phones via a downloaded app made by Mutant Labs.
And I had my physical fitness tested to the limit as I ran from sinister sea monsters as night fell, heart pounding with fear, and later as I danced my socks off to pirate bands at the secret "ghost ship" where the tale roared to its emotional conclusion.
I say no more for fear of spoiling the mystery; this experiment has surely worked and must be repeated. Yes, it was breathtaking.
Resurgam: The Lost Pearl of Plymouth was written by Hannah Wood, created and produced by Story Juice, Mutant Labs and i-DAT, with Rogue Theatre.