It’s been eight long years since immersive theatre gods Punchdrunk did a show that you could actually get tickets for. Accepting that some lucky souls actually did see 2017’s ‘Kaberoi’ – which was for audiences of two, and seen by fewer than 1,000 people in total – you have to go back to sprawling Hollywood epic ‘The Drowned Man’ for their last major London event.
Well the wait is very nearly over. Outdoing themselves for scale, new show ‘The Burnt City’ takes place in not one but two former military arsenal buildings in Woolwich, and will be a (sort of) adaptation of two Greek tragedies: Aeschylus’s ‘Agamemnon’ and Euripides’s ‘Hecuba’. In simpler terms, it’s set in the Trojan War, with one building representing Troy and the other Ancient Greece. If you’ve ever attended a Punchdrunk show, you’ll know that their plots are fairly abstract, but a couple of snippets I gleaned on a tour of one of the new spaces is that when finished each will have 60-70 rooms, and that the Trojan one will be cosmopolitan and bustling and loosely based on Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, while the Greek building will be more austere and barren. There’s a lot we won’t know until it opens and – heck – a lot we won’t know even then, but it is hugely exciting that Londoners will soon be able to step back into Punchdrunk’s awe-inspiring worlds, less works of theatre than full-blown waking dreams.
‘The Burnt City’ is at One Cartridge Place, SE18. Mar 22-Aug 28 2022. Tickets go on sale Wed Sep 8 at www.theburntcity.com.