It has taken me an embarrassingly long amount of time to witness the new digital version of theatre that has come out of the result of the nationwide lockdown. The reason for my lack of theatre during these troubling times has been due mostly to the fact that I didn’t think they could adapt the theatre experience to be totally online and could potentially tarnish my experience and thoughts on shows in the future but I could not have been more wrong! I have recently experienced some of the best theatres I have ever seen during this time of everyone staying home and “Metamorphosis” by Hijinx Theatre is no exception.
The last show created by Hijinx was titled “Meet Fred” which was a genius piece of theatre with the focus on inclusivity for performers being a key idea in both shows. Despite this, I was still cautious about the totally digital show but after watching this show I totally regret having any reservations.
Hijinx Theatre are a very inclusive company that includes performers from all walks of life including those with physical or mental learning needs. This idea of getting everyone included is obviously very important and allows everyone a chance to showcase their skills which I believe is exactly what, in my opinion, theatre should be about. The company take this one step further by making there shows as accessible to everyone as possible. In this show, there were options for Closed Captioning and translations in German which again is fantastic to see included in theatre. Hijinx have set the bar extremely high for inclusive theatre and I believe that many other companies should look to them for advice on how to allow the greatest number of people to enjoy theatre in the future.
The show opens (after joining the Zoom call and typing in the details etc) with all viewers waiting in a digital bar. When I read on the press email that there would be a digital theatre bar in this performance it really puzzled me as to how can you do a digital bar. During this section, viewers were encouraged digitally to raise a hand to be invited to share their video and chat with the barman. This was a great way to include the audience into the show which is important for Hijinx shows as their shows often have a great level of audience participation and so this would have been left out if they hadn’t have come up with this idea of a bar themed waiting room. The barman himself was clearly having a really fun time during the show and had everyone laughing throughout the parts he was included in. My personal favourite was when he created a ‘metamorphosis’ cocktail for selected that magically transformed into whatever the audience members had laying around the house which was so ridiculously silly but I could not help but laugh. The barman’s dedication to the over-the-top persona allowed this silly skits and sketches to work and so he should be praised for his character dedication. This ‘show’ did however at times become more of an experience rather than watching and show as such which did conflict with the more theatrical scenes despite how fun the audience participation sections were.
The show itself has been crafted in a way to be a comical perspective on the effects of Zoom calls and the new perspective on theatre. It had a montage of people taking part in digital auditions such as someone who is to close to the camera or can’t work out their headphones etc. The ‘director’ in the show also stood up at one point with their pants on show to the camera which is something we have all done on a Zoom call. Dressing fancy on the top part of us and then wearing PJs or just pants on the bottom half is a famous occurrence on Zoom calls and it was hilariously funny for this show to acknowledge that this happens. The show also possessed polls and texts that helped more the show from scene to scene and allowed it to smoothly transition which was another great inclusion but also added to the tension and excitement of the piece. I did, however, find it very confusing and distracting to watch so many different people across different screens which I did find somewhat tiresome after a while.
Overall, Metamorphosis is a very unique experience, unlike anything I have ever witnessed before. It managed to utilise the video call software to create a theatre experience unlike any other but did become somewhat distracting. I would rate this show 4 stars out of 5 and would encourage people to keep an eye out for some of Hijinx’s productions as it shows people how inclusive theatre can be of done correctly!