In the basement of Babel Studios is a beautifully decorated and cozy room filed with cushions and wall fabric resembling the inside of a tent. In this ambitious work by Immercity, the eight strong cast greets each audience member (all six of us) individually and takes us to various activities such as a game of card, poetry writing or attend an interview to join the circus. That is a good start with involving and convincing interaction which sets up the atmosphere of the show. Unfortunately, what follows is less successful.
The first act of the evening is Feast which retells a few of the Arabian Nights tales. A short prelude with Flori The Clown is some audience participatory fun. Then the main action is performed by three actors while the others sit around to fill up the space. The acting is competent with good performances from Emily Hodgson and Mei Mac though the story within a story layering structure is confusing, especially with the actors playing multiple and sometimes cross gender roles. The question is why the rest of the cast cannot fill in. Even at an hour, it still feels overlong with a somewhat languishing pace.
The Second part Parade is even slower, at times grinding to a halt. Inspired by izanagi and izanami, it tells the story of a man having lost his wife and goes in search of her while being advised against it by a dubious advisor. It is a relatively straight forward story and yet it manages to stretch itself to a full hour. While there are some variety and dynamism in Feast, this melodrama attempts to be atmospheric and dark only managing to send people to sleep. A good trimming and shortening will be much appreciated.
A mixed evening and some rather direct and awkward stewarding by the director Rosanna Mallinson herself during the transition makes us feel less like audience members but more like we are paid employee. There are good elements to build on but there is much to improve.