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Last on

Fri 4 Jan 2013 21:00 BBC Radio 4

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 28 May 2012

You may find yourself conducting a bank robbery, being dragged into a dark corner by an opera singer, feel the tickle of cobwebs run over your face in the dark, or stand two feet away from a woman who has just been raped. Immersive, site specific, site-responsive, installation - but definitely not for the faint-hearted - the interactive trend in the 21st century theatrical scene has been gathering pace and popularity.
Companies such as Punchdrunk, YouMeBumBumTrain, dreamthinkspeak, Sound and Fury and Artichoke have wowed audiences, selling out tickets, or filling city centres with spectators, wherever they have popped up, and in some cases that means in warehouses, streets or abandoned basements.

Sarah Hemming, theatre critic for the Financial Times screws her courage to the sticking point and embarks on a series of theatrical experiences, to help you decide whether you too might enjoy this type of theatre trip: the sort that doesn't involve a stage, a programme, an ice cream at the interval - oh, or a seat. Experiences can range from Lucien Bourjeily's re- enactment of imprisonment in a Syrian detention centre - "we promise you will be released at the end" ,to a magical storytelling moment by a cosy library fireplace - but is it theatre?
Talking to Felix Barrett, creator of Punchdrunk; Tristan Sharps of dreamthinkspeak; Nicky Webb from Artichoke; Sound and Fury's Dan Jones, and experiencing the full force of the improvisation medley that is YouMeBumBumTrain, Sarah boldly goes beyond the fourth wall.

Appearing for the defence, Guardian critic, Lyn Gardner, and for the prosecution Whatsonstage critic Michael Coveney.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall


  • YouMeBumBumTrain

    Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd created the company back in 2004 - an audience of one, a cast of hundreds. You have to be game, but not necessarily brave

    For details of upcoming shows check their website


    where you can find out about future rides..or about becoming a volunteer

  • Artichoke

    Artichoke are a creative company who help produce large scale public theatre and art - including the Sultan’s Elephant.


  • 66 Minutes

    The production of Lebanese director Lucien Bourjeily, ‘66 Minutes’ is an interactive production in which the audience are placed as a group of tourists visiting the Syrian capital only to be arrested by the Syrian secret service.

  • Punchdrunk

    Punchdrunk, created by Felix Barrett, have been creating innovative, immersive theatre, often in collaboration with major artistic companies such as the National Theatre and ENO, and film maker Adam Curtis, since 2000.

    website punchdrunk.org.uk

  • dreamthinkspeak

    Tristan Sharps founded this company in 1999. A Brighton based group which specialises in site-responsive productions.

    For further performance details wesbite: www.dreamthinkspeak.com/

  • dreamthinkspeak - The Rest is Silence

    dreamthinkspeak - The Rest is Silence

    Richard Clews, Edward Hogg, Ruth Lass, Philip Edgerley, Bethan Cullinane and Ben Ingles

    Photographer Jim Stephenson

  • Sound and Fury

    Has three directors Mark Espiner, Tom Espiner and Dan Jones. Their productions, including 'Going Dark' and 'Kursk', use sound technology in a radical way to evoke space and enhance storytelling. Dan's separate sound installations include 'Music for 7 Ice Cream Vans' and 'Sky Orchestra'.

    Discover upcoming performances at:


  • Sound and Fury's production Kursk

    Sound and Fury's production Kursk

    Left to right Gareth Farr, Ian Ashpitel, Laurence Mitchell and Tom Espiner
    Photography by Keith Pattison

  • Punchdrunk in rehearsal with their next production ‘The Crash of the Elysium’

    Punchdrunk in rehearsal with their next production ‘The Crash of the Elysium’

    The photographer is Tristram Kenton



    photographer Sean Raggett


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