I am going to start off, right off the bat, that it pains me to write a sub-par review of something from The Royal Court. Usually, I cannot come away from RC without being astounded, inspired and creatively shocked. Unfortunately, this just did not happen this time.
Total Immediate Collective […] features the story of a family, when faced with tragedy, separated, with the Father and Daughter embarking on a cult-esque ideal about the world, and the Mother fighting back for her Daughter. There is an essence of many likely groups across the World, from terrorist groups to religious or cultural groups who create imaginative worlds and predict the end, in one way or another. Therefore, it is not a strange tale to believe.
We are asked to sit in a purpose-built circle, with a book to follow the story. The book itself is full of impactful images and text; the images tend to be accompanied by a sound scape, bringing it to life and making it feel recognisable. However, while an interesting concept, the idea of reading along felt school-like, and for me, provided plenty of distractions from the play; from reading, to looking at other audience members, to waiting for the performers to (intentionally) find their place – a lot of pausing, a lot of waiting, a lot of missed action.
This did not exactly take to a good start of introducing us to the book – as part of this cult-ideal, we are told with the word “okay” when we are allowed to read – the Mother at the beginning explains this, however with the natural urge to move on, the performers gave a strange and imposing approach to anyone who defied this – leaving a audience member to sarcastically comment ‘What? Are we in school?” to which the response, maybe not so much in character, was an equally sarcastic “No, you’re in the theatre”. This made us all feel quite uneasy, for both the performer and as audience members, and perhaps tainted the next hour.
The performers themselves are wonderful and obviously very talented, but rather than an impactful piece of theatre, I felt as if we were in a first stage workshop.
I really wanted to like Total Immediate Collective[…]; an unusual concept, interesting writing, well performed; but all these elements just did not gel into a Royal Court standard piece.