Poster image for The Architects
Where: Outer London
5 December 2012 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews
The last time I visited V22 it was for a swing dance lesson and I felt that the massive disused biscuit factory in Bermondsey had great things ahead of it (besides of course, my interpretation of the Lindy Hop). The National Theatre has clearly thought the same: giving free reign to Shunt to create a "wildly disorienting" immersive theatrical performance.
Disorienting maybe, but certainly not wild. The audience is initially left to wander through a plywood maze, a frugal labyrinth offering a few glimpses at closed circuit television and booming sound effects. So far, so underwhelmed. More impressive is the main chamber: a decked out cruise ship complete with playing band, a bar and large projection screens. It is here that the main story unfolds and the crew of the ship endeavour to entertain us, the cruise patrons.
There are moments of comedy as the band play songs inappropriate for the cruise and the attendants joke about the debauchery patrons are engaging in. Unfortunately however, mild amusement is the strongest emotion this production can really evoke. Without much narrative impulse the piece chugs along at a fairly lax pace. The malevolent cruise ship owners watch and interact from projected screens and this interaction is certainly one of the more potentially provocative aspects of the piece. But these characters are over-played and simply come across as ridiculous super-villains.
“ Mild amusement is the strongest emotion this production can really evoke ”
The last quarter of the piece attempts to radically ratchet up the tension between the crew and cruise owners, introduce elements of danger and try to create panic amongst the audience - a laudable goal in immersive theatre - but it is ultimately ineffective. Without more foreshadowing the audience is quickly complacent, sitting in the bar of the ship eating peanuts and waiting for something shocking to wake them up.
Shock and bewilderment are very different things and
The Architects wanders far too close to the latter. The lacklustre maze leads into the cruise scene which follows on to an impressive acrobatic endeavour on ropes. Each of these aspects had so much potential and has clearly been crafted with a lot of attention, each attempting to push up against boundaries and provoke reaction. But none of them are good enough and as a whole the piece does not make much sense.
Towards the beginning of the play we receive an odd lecture on the importance of taking risks despite what critics might say. I absolutely applaud this attitude but it does not make
The Architects a good play. It's new, it's different but without any real narrative drive it's quite a dull and tame effort.
- Patrick Brennan
Score Comment Date Lazy use of space, dreary content, underwhelming finale. - EW 10 Dec 12 Very dissapointing. There was no narrative to the piece which would have been okay if the individual parts were entertaining in themselves ..they were not. - Mike Woolston 06 Dec 12
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p... Matilda on Broadway wins five Drama Desk Awards The Broadway transfer of Matilda The Musical has won five gongs at the 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards... Pulitzer winner : Islam is 'ripe territory' for drama Ayad Akhtar Ayad Akhtar's play Disgraced, which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, receives its UK premiere ... Michael Coveney: New York honours Matilda with five big awards First blood in the New York awards contest went to Matilda last night, as the show walked off with... Opening: Relatively Speaking, Southwark Playhouse's Tanzi Libre & NT Shed's Bullet Catch Among this week's major London theatre openings, in the West End and further afield, are Relatively ... Young Vic's award-winning Doll's House transfers to West End Carrie Cracknell's critically acclaimed Young Vic production of A Doll's House, using an adaptatio... Let It Be extends booking at Savoy until Jan 2014 Let It Be, the concert show based on the music of The Beatles, has extended its run at the Savoy... West End gets Lucky with Tom Hanks? Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks is reportedly in talks to reprise his role in hit Broadway play Lucky ... Benedict Nightingale on judging the Bruntwood Prize Guest Blog: Former Times theatre critic Benedict Nightingale is among the judges of this year's Bruntwood Priz... : Theatre 'flops' ripe for reinvention Ten of the Best Defining a theatre 'flop' is no straightforward task. A general rule of thumb could be that it mak...