Theatre review: Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, The Studio, Edinburgh

Tim Crouch's new work explores the transformative power of story.
Tim Crouch's new work explores the transformative power of story.
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A good book, so they say, can take a reader into a different world.

Theatre Review: Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, The Studio, Edinburgh * * * *

In his latest work, revered British theatre-maker Tim Crouch engineers a deliberate collision between theatre and reading by creating a show in which each audience member finds a beautiful book on their seat, containing not only the script for the strangely gripping 70-minute drama that’s about to unfold, but also pages of exquisite illustrations by Rachana Jadhav, which help to tell the story.

The actor Susan Vidler enters, and invites us to start reading the book with her, as she presents the character of Anna, who has lost one child to a terrible accident, and the other to a strange parallel world invented by her estranged husband, Miles, after the tragedy. She is joined by Shyvonne Ahmmad as Sol, her long-lost daughter, now a fervent member of her father’s cult, which believes that the world is about to end that very day.

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Add a strong strand of audience participation – at various points, members of the audience, seated in a circle, are asked to read the lines of Sol, Anna, and others – and you have a show that explores multiple layers of reality, illusion and consent, as the audience, like the actors, are drawn into the role authored for them.

Crouch himself appears as Miles, in a scorchingly precise performance. And the underlying suggestion of this disturbing, strange and beautiful show is that through reading, storytelling and theatre – we know far more about parallel universes than is commonly acknowledged; and about how to shift from one reality to another, simply by turning a page.

Until 25 August

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