THEATRE REVIEW: Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation ★★★★★
Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation
Royal Court, London
Thursday 3rd September - Saturday 21st September 2019
Selling out weeks in advance and fresh out from this year's Edinburgh Fringe, Tim Crouch's latest project, and for the purpose of this review we'll entitle 'Terrestrial Salvation', is personally what I believe to be the closest thing to perfection that London is currently offering right now, from the interaction and integral element that we as the audience play, as well as the power the whole process has to keep us on the edge of our seats and visualise throughout thanks to the hardback scripts which are placed for our pleasure as we enter the space.
Terrestrial Salvation works best in you go into the zone blind; situated in the Upstairs space at The Royal Court, a selective audience number of around 80 are invited to take a seat, two rows of around 40, staged in the round. We are authorised to pick up our books and with the command from the various actors on stage, all simultaneously turn the pages of the book when gestured. To give anything away from the storyline would almost hinder your experience, but what we will say is through tragedy and illustrations we are thrown into the future, becoming a new present for ourselves, before then being chucked back into the past, our now current present.
Alongside the book and illustrations which are presented and sketched beautifully with great attention to detail by Rachana Jadhav, is Pippa Murphy's electric sound design which pulses through our eardrums at certain moments, adding an ambience and which can only be dreamt about when you would read a book aloud in your head. Every moment of sound feels organic, with an authenticity and clarity to setting and emotion. Murphy's work is a real testimony to this whole production and must be treasured. With the book purchased shortly after the performance, these soundscapes will be imprinted whenever the pages are turned within the future.
As well as having written the production, Crouch also performs in the piece as Miles, alongside Shvvonne Ahmmad and Susan Vidlar as Sol and Anna respectfully. With Ahmmad and Vidlar sharing most of the stage time together, reading aloud again from the book and inviting the audience to speak, their characteristics are deeply satisfying, and whilst some directions from the book are not physically performed on stage, it's these moments that actually we are allowed to visualise inside our own minds. When Crouch arrives in the latter stages, his presence is known and he dominates the stage; we know of course exactly who he is and what he has done from the material given to us, but Crouch still manages to shock and produce shivers down spines as he speaks off book, which will become clear as to why for those who were lucky enough to source tickets. Shyvonne assesses and speaks her lines with urgency, whilst Vidlar is more collective, and again enhances the knowledgeable and collective take they have on their characters.
Overall, Terrestrial Salvation is best enjoyed with little pre-warning and an open mind to experience a production like no other around, and with the combination of the two, you will be treated to a truly unique experience heading out across the galaxy.