Marisa Carnesky has – as she tells us, tongue firmly in cheek – been doing this trendy 'immersive cabaret circus promenade performance' thing for years. Her unique niche of interactive end-of-the-pier esoterica has fused ghost trains, anatomical models and tattoo culture with religion, feminism and class consciousness in ways both playful and rewardingly demanding.
In 'Carnesky's Tarot Drome', she plays ringmaster to a dozen-odd live incarnations of the major arcana of the mystical deck, embodied by performers associated with alternative performance companies as varied as Duckie, Boom Boom Club and Lucha Britannia. It's a rich, heady and provocative experience.
In the first half, punters are free to wander the shadowy arches of the Old Vic Tunnels, seeking out eye-contact encounters with the likes of the Empress (Suri Sumatra), all enveloping arms and seductive fruit; the Chariot (Rhyannon Styles), who combines transgender identity and sleb-culture narcissism; and Death (Nina Felia), a transformative figure who emerges from striking immobility into unbounded flexibility. Bosch-style beasties, self-sufficient singalongs and aquatic thrashings are also to be found.
Then comes an archetypal struggle channelled through the medium of Mexican wrestling, and a stage-show of celestial tumult presented as lamé-clad roller disco. Initially boasting roiling rock from Rasp Thorne And The Briars and some striking visual coups, this sequence drifts and drags anticlimactically – particularly regrettable given the impossibility of exploring all of the promenade work in the allotted time.
This is the real heart of the show: a test-bed of images, thoughts and ideas flowing from the figure of the Hanged Man, tremulously suspended between dissatisfaction and risk-taking, as most of us are. At its best, 'Carnesky's Tarot Drome' invites and enables us to embrace agency and change. Just pick a card.