Published in The TLS April 16, 2019
It’s no exaggeration to claim that Felix Barrett’s theatre company Punchdrunk has changed British theatre. Founded in 2000, Punchdrunk pioneered, and came to define, immersive theatre: where members of an audience roam around a found space itself rich in atmosphere and meaning, with non-linear narrative conveyed through dance, sound, lighting, audience interaction and hyper- detailed, installation-style design. The company created a version of small-town America inspired by David Lynch and Edward Hopper inside an abandoned Wapping warehouse for Faust (2006), and built a forest inside a vast disused factory in south London for The Firebird Ball (2005). Josephine Machon’s encyclopedia, including substantial contributions from many Punchdrunk key players, is a thorough account of the company’s eighteen-year history – though a few developments are skirted over in this fascinating, and at times irksome, guide to their practice.
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