Shunt, Tropicana

Review in Issue 17-2 | Summer 2005

Down down down to the deep dark depths... Shunt's latest is the first production in their new space – a dank and musty labyrinth under London Bridge station – and Tropicano is very much a Look Ma Here We Are piece. Like children playing with a new toy, Shunt explore every physical and metaphorical opportunity offered by the space. Thus, we have a journey to Hades (boatman transformed into avuncular lift attendant); a vault lined with boxes and metal cages (vivisection, Dracula's boxes of soil, stowaway migrants...); disturbing suggestions of bestial congress; sulphuric smells, devilish drifts of smoke, indigo lights that burst into life and fade. We stumble through this world of darkness, dreams and demons to arrive at a brightly lit funeral party – but whose? Maybe our own. There's a hearse draped with showgirls, a rock guitarist, cucumber sandwiches and beer…

This is theatre of and for the senses, visceral theatre that reaches back to the form's origins in rite-of-passage journeys into the night. Discomfort and disorientation are felt physically in the experience of negotiating the space – at some points we are, exhilaratingly, left in the darkness without a guide. The company display their strengths in exploring the dramaturgical possibilities of light and darkness, and in the exploitation of the many different ways of manipulating an audience within a given space. Tropicana is an exciting melting pot of ideas, as befits this collective of imaginative and talented artists. But there is a feeling sometimes that too much is thrown into the pot, with no one on board to make an executive decision on how it all works together. This may be heresy to say as the company pride themselves on their collective approach to theatre-making, but I felt Tropicana needed the eye of an outside director.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Dec 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-2
p. 28