The Drowned Man, Punchdrunk and National Theatre

I had high expectations of this which were sadly not met. Subtitled a Hollywood Fable, Punchdrunk have created an amazing installation, a huge ex-sorting office turned into Temple Studios, in which a story is being acted. As some parts of the story happen in small spaces and the total audience is around 600, it means most people do not see most of the action. Other blogs have recommended following a specific character around but they moved too quickly for me to follow so all I got was glimpses. Some were very intense, e.g. a naked man being drowned/baptised/washed by a woman in a blood-red bath; others were banal. In all, I probably saw less than half an hour’s action in nearly three hours.

Punchdrunk had told us the performance ended at 8 p.m. so when a member of staff ushered us towards the ground floor at 7:45, we assumed we were being herded out and left. Asking why there were still so many bags at the compulsory bag check-in, the woman told us that the finale was taking place at that moment! I considered going back in but could probably not have seen it with that many people in front of, just as I hadn’t been able to see the last couple of things I had tried to follow. If you are young and energetic, willing to push us older people out of the way and follow the action then it may well be great; if not, save your money.


1 thought on “The Drowned Man, Punchdrunk and National Theatre

  1. Jade

    I must admit that I was hugely excited about being able to explore the darkened set, so didn’t even bother trying to follow the narrative. We watched a few intriguing scenes and chased after the performers a few times, but I prefer acting to dance, so I wasn’t that bothered. The premium price tickets allow you to view introductory scenes and better prepare you to find the action though, so we’ll be eschewing our usual Christmas ballet trip to the ROH for these! Jx


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