fri 01/07/2022

Site-specific theatre goes commercial | reviews, news & interviews

Site-specific theatre goes commercial

Site-specific theatre goes commercial

Last weekend we posted a round-up of the vast array of site-specific work happening in the theatre over the summer. Most of them are shows which are so boldly experimental that they haven't much realistic hope of a commercial future. Plays for an audience of one are not the producer's friend. But it turns out that it's not just the mighty Punchdrunk who can shift tickets by the skipload.

This week Punchdrunk's production of The Duchess of Malfi opened in an abandoned office block opposite London's City Airport the day after The Railway Children chuffed into the disused Eurostar terminal at Waterloo station. They are both immensely expensive productions to mount. Punchdrunk requires armies of masked ushers and a full orchestra. The adaptation of E Nesbit's classic has a roll-on/roll-off role for a locomotive steam train.

Punchdrunk are working at the office for a finite period and the entire quota of 4,000 tickets sold out in six hours. The York Theatre Royal's transfer from the National Rail Museum to Waterloo was initially booking up until 4 September. Such has been the critical welcome, and the subsequent clamour for tickets, that they announced this morning the show will now be running into 2011. Unless you already have a ticket, you won't experience The Duchess of Malfi and its devastating theatrical denouement. But The Railway Children makes just as great a virtue of its site-specific production values. Book now. Trust me, like the driver of the engine, you'll need a rag for mopping up.

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