A moment, a journey, an encounter have the potential to drastically shape the course of our lives, and in the case of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre, it would be an encounter with the people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil in 1969 that would change his.
Originally performed to critical acclaim in 2015, Complicite‘s ambitious show The Encounter delves into this experiential moment in time, etching out McIntyre’s tumultuos spiritual and emotional journey. Simon McBurney purposely draws on the art form of storytelling; theatre is a form of storytelling but dependent on the show is more of a subconconcious factor, whereas The Encounter finds itself tying McIntyre’s experience with McBurney’s retelling of the story to his daughter. Powerful, as the conscious and subconscious work side by side and the concept of time is beautifully experimented with – do we truly know what the structure of time is? We as humans find ourselves constantly questioning what’s real and what’s fictional with the information we constantly process, and find we shape our own conclusions by how we perceive the world.
Headphones worn by the viewer form the foundations of The Encounter‘s duration, Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin‘s sound design beautifully encapsulating the ever changing feel of the evening. Loops, experimentation of sound playing from one ear to the other, experimentation in pitch and a binaural sound prop showcase the audio playground in which McBurney has established – a reminder as to how traditional elements of theatre can be reinvented and experimented with. The scale of the environment in which McIntyre now finds himself in, as a plane drifts up above and a multitude of trees sway in response, and McIntyre mimics the calls of various birds elevates the role of sound, capturing the forest’s intricacies as well as power is true escapism.
Language, both spoken and physical connect yet distance, we’re reminded that although expressions can be lost in translation, we share universal experiences that bring us together. We can be surrounded by communities, yet feel a sense of loneliness, aspects that The Encounter‘s multi-layered narrative draw upon effortlessly. An inventive evening that leaves you thinking. 4/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Encounter was shown online from Friday 15th until Monday 25th May. To find out more about the production, visit here…