Imagine an old film studio, four floors filled with, as the warnings called it, "theatrical haze and strobe (and rather dim) lighting".
Paddington Station at night, drunkards, travellers and Londoners on a Saturday-night-out. I wait at the entrance of a building that looks like a branch of the London fire-department in my hand a short and cryptic storyline printed on a tiny piece of paper and when I am finally allowed to enter a deep male voice from a hidden loudspeaker tells me to be silent throughout the whole show and I receive a white Scream-like mask to be worn at all times. (Slight problem: I am wearing glasses! Which means I can either read or watch, an age thing, and the mask tends to sit askew on my nose.) After a short voyage in an old escalator I wander, all on my own, through a maze of rooms, furnished with loving detail and slightly dusty, sometimes meeting other white-masked people, all of us trying to find a solution, an understanding, a story. It is a very physical experience, slightly eerie, irritating and full of suspense. Two dancers suddenly appear and get into a precisely organized fight. One runs off, the audience, including me, runs after him, he vanishes through a door, we follow, behind the door a labyrinth of black curtains, we lose sight of the actor, suddenly a searching hand touches my shoulder, I cry out, Ups! a sound. I grope the walls, find a door, behind it another strange room, perfectly furnished, sometimes with somebody unmasked, in it, which means he/she is part of the story, doing something more or less incomprehensible. Sudden illuminating of a place directs me toward a far corner of a seemingly endless space, a dance takes place, the light goes, the dance ends, I move on.
The story of the Drowning Man is loosely based on Woyzeck. Here and there I find hints. The anatomy of the cat. Hundreds of prescriptions for employees of the film studio signed by a mysterious doctor, sorry, I forgot to mention, that the whole story takes place in a film studio of the Sixties by the name of Temple Pictures.
So far so good.
But, yes very much but: Somebody else already found the perfect words: ‘The Drowned Man’ is like watching a blue whale glide by an inch from your face, simply too big to take in. Andrzej Lukowski
I left after two hours of the possible three, feeling slightly underwhelmed. So much atmosphere, fog, darkness, neverending music and electric sounds forcing my emotions into different directions, but where? Indefiniteness in itself is not a quality.
I loved to be surprised, to be misled, to be helpless, I liked to be the active, reactive member in the show, but at some point the mystery has to invite me in.
For more than 10 minutes I watched an actor undressing and then dressing again into a woman, all the while he ignored me sitting not more than a meter away from him. When, at last, he allowed me to close the zipper of his dress I felt much better.
Another member of the audience wearing glasses
Etwas, das mir immer öfter passiert, während ich Zuschauer bin, die Frage entsteht, warum? Rausch wäre erhofft. Klärung wäre erwünscht. Erfahrung wird begehrt. Aber, das verflixte Aber, lasst mich nicht allein, interessiert euch für mich. Ermöglicht meine Teilnahme.
1. Showing signs of brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head.
2. Behaving in a bewildered, confused, or dazed manner.