‘Adrift’ // Metro Arts

‘Adrift’ was intricate.

‘Adrift’ from Counterpilot was a compelling, intricate, and technological piece; a mechanically-immense and impressive work.

Staged at the New Benner Theatre at Metro Arts – Counterpilot is Metro Arts 2022 Company in Residence – the show was part theatre, part game, all immersive and fully interactive.

‘Adrift’ brought audience members together into a beautifully crafted world of watery tales of playful dolphins, lonely whales and remote lighthouses. Playing with ideas of isolation and togetherness, ‘Adrift’ asked audience members to come together to collectively consider their individual and group responsibilities towards the world around.

This premiere event (first developed in 2020 and then again in 2021) is from the impressive creative collective Counterpilot who pride themselves on creating interactive performance works that activate audiences with new technology and transmedia storytelling.

Direction by Nathan Sibthorpe was supporting by LX and Tech Design from Christine Felmingham and Sound Design from Mike Willmett. The work invited audience members – or perhaps better termed participants or travellers – to submerge themselves in a ‘fantasmagorical’ underwater world.

Boarding began by checking bags at the door before being given a wristband, the symbol on which would direct the remainder of the journey. Participants were equipped with a vest and headset allowing them to listen to both instructions for tasks and stories and enter a new universe, the noise cancelling headphones almost gave the sensation of being submerged as participants entered new depths.

Participants were informed that there were no actors, and were simultaneously alone and together on the journey, reliant on wits, instinct, and the instructions coming from the headsets. The production was witty, clever and at times surprisingly moving.

The lighting was complicated, asking participants to use torches to see. Overhead lighting created a seamless integration of waves and water, and at times participants were plunged into complete darkness that could be both overwhelming and freeing. I, along with many other audience members, found myself closing my eyes at times and just listening to the sound coming through my set of headphones.

The world was elaborate and comprehensive, fleshed out with detailed miniatures that asked the audience to play along. I’ve often found watching works of performance with technological integration challenging – it sometimes feels like the worlds of the theatre and the technology aren’t speaking to each other – but ‘Adrift’ integrates the multitude of universes and it holds seamlessly – keeping the audience members captived from start to finish.

‘Adrift’ performed until Saturday 19 November at Metro Arts. For more information visit their website.

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