the invisible show


Hard on the heels of The Fall of Man retour, Red Shift premiered its latest opus The Invisible Show last week at the magnificent Latitude Festival near Southwold in Suffolk.

The Invisible Show marks a radical departure for the company, deploying digital broadcast technology to deliver a live-mixed audio soundtrack to the audience’s headphones in an outdoor public space.

Writer/director Jonathan Holloway has crafted six distinct encounters into the piece’s structure; 1. a mother coming to terms with her daughter’s pregnancy;  2. former lovers who rendezvous for the first time since college; 3. a father driven witless by his renegade son; 4. a terminally-ill woman dealing with the future care of her children; 5. loved-up teenagers in the afterglow of a first romp;  and finally, (in an extension of The Fall of Man’s narrative) 6. older man and the nanny of his children face a bitter end to their affair.

The programme lasts about 50mins and has been designed for outdoor crowded spaces – the conceit being that the performers are discretely embedded within the audience. Thus the narratives can be projected onto any number of possible candidates seen in the passing crowd. In practice some of the audience were happy to lie back in the sun and soak up the audio alone, whilst others were keen to actively seek out the physical source of the dialogue. Radio mics worn by the performers permit the delivery of intimate, dramatic dialogues  – without the earshot of nearby unknowing public yet privy to all those wearing the headphones. This, at times creates a fascinating dynamic, particularly when unscripted encounters take place with ‘unknowing’ members of the public.

For example, in a rendition of scene 3., actor Zac spontaneously diffused some tense dialogue with the father by asking a group of passing girls for a light for his cigarette. They duly obliged. Later, in a version of scene 6. during a heated argument between Peter and nanny Veronica, a concerned member of the public came forward to offer help to actor Natalie (seemingly unaware of the 52 people passively watching with headphones). This interface with the reality of the Festival made the show all the more successful, blurring the boundaries between Art and Life, and offering a new perspective on private Festival narratives.

This weekend, (24th July) The Invisible Show travels to Taunton Brewhouse, where it will feature as part of Westival. The crowds will doubtless be smaller than the 35,000 or so milling around the Latitude site, but it will be an excellent test for the material.

Guardian round-up of theatre at Latitude


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