For many, myself included, the idea of livestreaming a theatre performance to your living room is slightly underwhelming. It can seem like an ersatz substitute for the real deal, a temporary remedy, when what we really crave is the communal experience of sitting in a crowded auditorium.
The brilliance of the Traverse Theatre’s new virtual show, The Journey, is that it knows this. Rather than try to replicate the live experience, it celebrates the virtual medium and uses it as a unique device for collective, interconnected storytelling.
Scott Silven, an acclaimed performer and illusionist, invites the audience to travel virtually to his childhood home where, as he puts it, ‘we go on a journey together that explores the power of home and place and connection’. Rather than passively watching, the audience is asked to contribute. With everyone’s camera and microphone switched on throughout, Silven playfully interacts with the audience, posing questions, asking for advice. With only thirty audience members, each helping to fashion the show they are watching, there was a sense of intimacy and participation that I have rarely felt in the theatre.
Part one-man play, part magic show, part communal therapy, The Journey is a thoroughly new theatre-‘going’ experience. At times I found the illusions unnecessary, with moments of ‘is-that-your-card’ trickery slightly puncturing the wondrous, ethereal atmosphere that Silven had created. That being said, let that not detract from the show’s visual gorgeousness and its beautiful exploration of our interconnectedness, a particularly pertinent message for these times.
The Journey is streaming on the Traverse Theatre website from 24-29 November, 2020.
Image: Traverse Theatre/ Scott Silven’s ‘The Journey’