Shangri-Las - “I Can Never Go Home Anymore”
“Verklempt” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Tonight I was fortunate enough to see The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, a completely immersive “promenade theatre” production that spans five separate “studios” and over 200,000 square feet in the heart of London as 35 actors breathe life into two parallel narratives. Put on by Punchdrunk, an acclaimed UK-based theatre company known for their immersive “choose your own adventure” style shows, The Drowned Man revolves around two separate couples and their struggles with infidelity, one based in the dark Old Hollywood “Temple Pictures” studio and the other in what feels like an ominous Midwest ghost town, complete with an entire floor of desert landscape covered in sand and even a functioning saloon. The audience is led in little by little and instructed to wear masks, an ingenious choice on the behalf of the directors that truly makes you feel as if you’re totally disembodied and invisible to the actors, who fully live through their characters for the entire three hour duration.
As you move through each floor, following the actor or actress of your choosing from room to room to forest to snow embankment, a soundtrack comprised of everything from Johnny Cash to Gold Frapp to Hans Zimmer’s Hannibal score perfectly accentuates every pitch and dip in the story, giving what already feels like a nearly all-encapsulating show the last bit of vitality it needs to thoroughly consume you. If you’re anything like me, by the time the show’s ultra-climactic final scene hits tears will be gushing down your face in torrents, brought on as much by the sheer stunning spectacle as the genuine emotion you feel towards all of the characters.
It was difficult to pick just one song when there were so many wonderful tracks to choose from, but I decided on this Shangri-Las tune as I distinctly remember having the realization that I was watching people do exactly what I’ve always dreamed of as it started playing. If you’re in the London area from now until July 6th The Drowned Man’s final show date, even if you aren’t a “theatre person”, do yourself a favor and go see this production. I can guarantee you you’ll never see anything like it, and with a showing this painstakingly expansive, there’s absolutely something there for everyone.