Immer City’s intriguing audio-immersive take on an oft-forgotten part of the tale of Macbeth is a wonderfully atmospheric and unique experience, if one that still feels rough around the edges.
If there is one thing this production understands it is how to create atmosphere
Led into a darkened room in a small group, you are given a set of headphones through which you are placed in the role of a child, lost on the heath, who is taken in by a mysterious witch. But strange prophecies are afoot, and your destiny is far grander, and far bloodier, than you could possibly imagine.
Immersive and interactive theatre is tricky to do well, as they rely on two-way communication between the audience and the actors, and a larger suspicion of disbelief. Immer City largely largely manages to traverse these pitfalls, using the headphones to tell the story directly to each audience member, establishing a direct connection and allowing instructions to easily be communicated, guided only by one mute actress playing the role of the witch, all her dialogue fed to you through the headphones. Indeed this performance is very hands on and will have you scrambling to pick up sticks for firewood, washing sheets and even practising how to stab someone correctly. This contributes to a wonderful sense of mood that makes even mundane moments feel engaging and moments of tension and horror all the more affecting. If there is one thing this production understands it is how to create atmosphere, and there indeed moments I felt truly frightened and vulnerable.
The overall performance however is not one that is without fault. The technical aspect still needs work, hindered by headphones cutting out - which was in fairness dealt with promptly without disrupting the performance in any serious way. A larger issue is how sound can become distorted and muted, fading in and out or losing the background music that accompanies the storytelling, breaking the immersion the show tries so hard to foster.
Furthermore, the performance suffers from the low emotional stakes, the story is told to us entirely through voice-over and as we, the audience, are placed in the leading role, any notion that we are in immediate danger does not really exist, making the whole exercise lack any real bite or climax that one would get in a traditional story. While the sole actress does a wonderful job silently marshalling the audience and getting across a wide range of emotions just with her facial expressions, her inability to speak directly to us and react to our actions makes the show feel more pre-programmed and mechanical than an interactive show should be.
In the end, Blood Will Have Blood is an interesting experience, but one that won’t leave much of an impact as you leave. Still, it is an experience that I would recommend you try for yourself, at least to see how good you are at stabbing someone with a stick.