The Encounter, Edinburgh International Conference Centre

The Encounter

The Encounter

A new Complicite show is always a special, unique thing. This one is a gift handed to us by the theatre gods. Simon McBurney’s latest one-man show for Complicite tells the tale of Loren McIntyre (a photojournalist) and is set in an Amazonian land that marries jungle life with the twenty first century to startling effect.

This is a must-see and must-hear two hour show that adds up to landmark theatre. McBurney takes us on a metaphysical roller coaster, one that we can never be certain we are going to get off.

The Encounter

The Encounter

The stage is mostly bare with the exception of water bottles, a table, a hammer and a packet of crisps. This bold production is executed with the world class showmanship that one would come to expect with Complicite. The technology is comprised of state of the art 3D headphones that sets a new benchmark for immersive theatre.

The most striking moment comes when the two disparate parallel tales collide and McBurney trashes the stage. His cap donned, hammer in hand, like a member of Russian punk band The Pussy Riot. It’s an infinitely majestic, inspired, deranged and delicious piece of theatre. It stirred me emotionally. The lessons we learn from one another, finding our place in the world etc.

The skill and confidence with which the team have extended the parameters of their art form are quite amazing. If he retired tomorrow this would be his victory lap.

What about the writing? Well, Mr McBurney recently told Dominic Cavendish (Telegraph) ’10 days to go and no script. It’s absolutely petrifying.’ The fear was evident and justified. He stumbled over lines and unbeknown to the audience was reliant on the autocue at the back of the EICC… This doesn’t take away from the fact that this is visual and audio poetry and a show that will find its feet to truly justified five star reviews.

I’m not going down the traditional star rating route. I’d give ‘The Encounter’ a 9/10. And I’ve had a while to reflect on it so it’s a proper 9/10 rather than the sort of 9/10 I’d give to Gecko’s ‘Institute‘, which is frankly, an 8/10 at best, and even then only on a good day.

It’s an exceptional work that lands at The Barbican in February 2016. If and when you do hear/see it make sure you tell me, because this is a two-way street, you know.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre, until 23 August.