It was the title, I must admit, which first attracted me to review Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation; its promise of combining "stage action and illustrated text", about "a man who manipulates a group of people to sit in a place together and believe in something that isn't true". It sounded either fascinating or pretentious, brilliantly witty or a waste of time. Unfortunately, it proved to be nowhere near as effective as presumably intended.
Overall, this is a calculated, heartless affair.
It relies, to a large extent, on creating a kind of religious atmosphere as we gather together in a public space, brought together in to a circle to read from the hardback volume placed on every chair. This echoes the narrative of a man, following a near-death experience that killed his young son, seeing the end of the world in a predicted eclipse, but also the salvation of himself and his believers. We're not just the audience - we're placed in the role of those followers, expected to believe in every word we believe he has foreseen and written down for us.
Much of this is symbolised in how we 'read' the story; we are told when to turn the page by cast members with a repeated, smiled "OK" that increasingly becomes condescending or strangely scary. It's a slow burn on occasions, as writer/ cast member Tim Crouch clearly underestimates how quickly some people can read. This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the piece – robbing reading of the individuality which so distinguishes it from the shared experience of performance. Time and again I felt restrained, pressured, oppressed by the lethargic pace of the production and inevitably, I resisted. I peaked ahead.
Not much good did it do me. Illustrator Rachana Jadhav's work failed to impress anything beyond the realisation that a graphic novel which has to constantly name its characters from one page to the next has failed at the first hurdle of narrative continuity. Overall, this is a calculated, heartless affair. Now, perhaps that’s the point, though I place little value on the results. Portentous, pretentious and miserably inadequate, it essentially left me imaginatively... cold.