You’d most likely associate the world’s of Augmented and Virtual Reality with gaming – a form of entertainment enjoyed by gaming enthusiasts worldwide; these technologies allowing for participants to escape the real world for however long they so choose. In order for that to happen, hours of content and various scenarios are programmed to make no 2 gaming experiences the same, AøE’s Whist channels into this lucrative world of gaming, a maximum of 10 participant donning 3D glasses and headphones to experience an auditory visual reality like no other.

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Devised by AøE Artistic Directors Aoi Nakamura and Esteban Fourmi, whose mission statement is to ‘bring the art of dance closer to audiences [and] to create high-quality productions and experiences that are not bound by a stage’, Whist is a dance theatre piece with a difference. James Michael Shaw’s striking 3D structures are the evening’s starting points, each art work a portal to another part of Whist’s narrative. No 2 of the participant’s experiences are the same, as a total of 67 scenarios are crafted by the AøE team and Happy Finish, the production’s technology partner. My particular experiences involve me witnessing a solo dance piece by a female in a white room slowly darkening, a group of 3 dining around a table, a pair situated in a library, and a female seducing a male seated on a chair in the corner of a room. All of this takes place in what seems to be a country manner with a multitude of rooms, but this is my interpretation. What’s great is that the audience are left to form their own opinions.

These characters are all mysterious, participants leave wanting to know more about them. Themes of sexuality and isolation are apparent, however storylines are underdeveloped resulting in a lack of emotional investment. What gives Whist its edge is its ambitious use of 360 degree visual imagery. As a participant, you can’t help but be swept up by the innovation taking place. Whist let’s us know that we’re entering a very exciting time technologically within theatre; proving that conventional uses of space can be challenged via the use of digital applications. A stronger concept and Whist has the makings of something truly memorable. 3.5/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Whist was shown at the Watermans Arts Centre on Friday 22nd February 2019. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop