I am standing in a white room with my kids, surrounded by strangers, all of us waving our hands frantically at the ceiling. Colours, lights and shapes collide above us. In a moment, the room will go dark and we will receive our next task from a screen. We will feel strangely elated when we succeed. When we fail, there will be a loud buzz and the giant rabbit’s eyes will glow with disappointment.
fanSHEN’s Invisible Treasure at Ovalhouse is an immersive piece of theatre that instantly sucks you into its bizarre landscape, using cutting-edge sound, sensor and projection technologies. Described as an ‘interactive digital playspace’, it’s basically like being trapped inside a video game, where there are no obvious rules and you have to work together to figure out the next level.
From the moment we were ushered into the space, and the ‘audience’ stood looking at each other in silence, I felt a sense of unease… possibly because of the bunny in the corner, vaguely reminiscent of Donnie Darko! But as the game begun, our wariness gave way to curiosity.
Soon we were having fun, as we tried to complete challenges, from talking into the wall, to dancing until we broke a sweat. The elderly man doing the can-can beside me is a sight I won’t forget in a hurry!
But what’s it actually about? There are more questions than answers in this show, and that’s really the point — in a world where no one person is in charge, and still you are directed by external force(s) — how do you find your way forward?
Invisible Treasure is a very clever production that takes on challenging themes of power and choice and makes them fun, exciting and accessible even for my kids ages 6 and 9. When we emerged, a little dazed, we had a chance to leave some feedback on graffiti walls. On the way home, I learned more about what the babes took from the experience. Enjoy their reviews below!
Jed’s Review (age 6)
‘I had two favourite bits: when there was a circle in the middle and it played funky music when I stepped on it. And when I was trying to reach the ceiling and it was making loads of colours. I think the show was about the bunny, I think he was the bad guy and we have to serve him and do whatever he wants. At the end, I felt happy because we got out of the bunny’s room. And I liked the cello music that was playing. I’d give the show 10 stars!’
Ezra’s Review (age 9)
‘I liked that the show was about video games, because I love playing video games. I liked how when we put our hands up and waved at the ceiling, the colours moved. And I liked the bonus games and the ones where we had to guess what was happening and everyone was sprinting around. I think the show was about video games and collaboration. The bunny was the Boss and a mix between bad guy and good. I’d give it infinity stars!’
Invisible Treasure is playing at Ovalhouse, 52-54 Kennington Oval, SE11 5SW (Oval tube). Age guidance 7+ (70 minutes, no seating or interval). Performances at 2pm, 5pm & 7.30pm on varying dates (Wed-Sun); £7-£12 (ends Nov 14)