And the Birds Fell from the Sky is an immersive video goggle experience with a rich mix of sound, scents and film – an emotive journey where you’re placed at the centre of the narrative as its lead character.
The company kick off the performance quite gently as a softly spoken guide gives you instructions through your headphones, but after a few small tasks later we’re ready for the journey ahead. Combining wheelchairs and car excursions, the performance shuttles on and it’s not long before you encounter a group of Faruk clowns. Their crazy anarchic behaviour is unsettling, but you find yourself wishing the madness to escalate. The most overpowering experience of the piece is the smells in the car: as the rich scent of whiskey spraying from a clown’s mouth stings your nostrils it really draws you into their world.
The performers handle you with care, but I left with the feeling that the moments of interaction could have been a bit more hands on to match the anarchic temperament of the Faruk clowns. There were, also, a few clichés in the video track and at times the headphones of the person sat next to you can be heard. These things are easy to ignore but at the same time do momentarily break your engagement.
The narrative has a poetic rhythm, but it’s hard to follow and there’s a mythology behind the characters and plot that isn’t brought fully to light. Yet, as with most immersive experiences, I found myself enjoying getting lost in the poetic yet chaotic world around me. I can imagine some audience members maybe being put off by the disjointed narrative, but this performance is all about the ride, and it’s one that lingers with you for some time after.