This is Capital City (Counterpilot)
October 26 – 31
You should have had me at “interactive solo experience” … had me certain I would not be a fan, that is. For self-confessed theatre traditionalists like me the notion of experiencing an interactive performance work like “This is Capital City” can be an off putting one, to the extent that although I’d heard everyone’s raves about the show’s 2013 La Boite Indie season, I still had held no particular desire to partake in its originality. How retrospectively mistaken of me! Or perhaps it was worth the wait, because I can’t imagine a better place in which to role play out the intimate experience of seeking to further career in a Capital City of turbines and industry than the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Solo, but setting off at sort-of the same time, each member of the four person audience is provided with a pair of headphones linked to a smartphone of ongoing instructions. After completing orientation, your inner monologue navigates you through the promenade performance around the Brisbane Powerhouse, transposed as Capital City, allowing exploration and showcase of the venue’s nooks and crannies of dark corners and beholding views as you listen to instructions and move accordingly. It’s a choose-your-own adventure for the digital age: a dichotomy of busyness all around, but isolation apart from the voice in ear… the voice of your story, as a guide. And while often the voice can be fearful, uncertain and paranoid, it does allow for rare moments of appreciation and absorption within the surroundings, when directed to stop, think and decide as you search for answers surrounding the death of a co-worker. But can you trust the system of a warring city where the sun always shines? Time and your decisions, will tell.
Those uncomfortable with the idea of immersive theatre may take a while to orientate to the initially isolating experience, but once your thoughts are out of your own headspace of wondering if you are the last person left in the orientation cubicles and if you should have left yet, it is easy to fall into the protagonist role, especially after being directed through interaction with the citizens of the mysterious dystopian-like world. This is one of the work’s many strengths. Timing is spot-on as these actors interact with participants in predominantly wordless conversation, relying only on non-verbal cues from participants to direct the narrative’s direction. With a multitude of potential narrative threads that could be followed, it is an absolute credit to their commitment and skills that their performance is so polished to the point almost of intimidating presence.
Clearly, there are dystopian, sci-fi themes operating at the heart of the work, with repetition of propaganda lines like “industry is victory” and alike, conjuring immediate Orwellian sensibilities. Still, “This is Capital City” is a work unlike any other, not just because of its clever, creative concept and impressive use of location based technology, but because it is your story and your adventure… the experience of which will is sure to add some excitement beyond that of your usual theatre fare.