The two large scale shows that performance collective Shunt has produced since leaving its former London Bridge space are both satirical pieces about man's hubris that are, in themselves, pretty good examples of man's hubris.
In the case of 2009's gloriously messy 'Money' this wan't a problem: while it was often impossible to work out exactly what was going on in the perabulatory piece, the mad ambition of the astonishing immersive set effectively served to justify the obtuse parable of capitalism gone awry.
Follow up 'The Architects' also has a pretty cool set: after a short wander through a wooden maze, the audience arrives in a huge room that's been mocked up to look like the lounge of a cruise liner, complete with portal windows, a functional bar, and a live band (who seem to play Britpop, oddly enough).
But where 'Money' has a sense of exploration and immersion, here – sat in a freezing former factory – we're largely bystanders.
At the start of the 'cruise', a quartet of performers talk us through the impossible decadence of the voyage we're about to experience, with every possible whim catered for, be that the usual leisure activities (pilates, etc) or the possibility of not only swimming with the dolphins, but also shagging them. As a series of flash-forwards propel us through the increasingly feral voyage, 'The Architects' settles into a slight but enjoyable absurdist rhythm.
What it desperately needs is a big finale to justify the £25 a pop price tag, to pay off the tantalising hints at something darker and deeper; what it does is fizzle out bathetically, the climax simply a bit of pedestrian rope work from a pair of acrobats.
It's not a horrible evening, but it is a flimsy one. There are frequent suggestions of a much more intelligent and unsettling show lurking in the background, but they're not realised well enough in a show that feels like it doesn't yet have an ending.
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Average User Rating
3.7 / 5
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I am deeply confused about what the reviewer and other writers have commented on - they clearly had a very different experience or set of criteria to judge these things on. We went and really loved the show. I thought it was very funny, with numerous playful and entertaining scenes within the main part ending in an awesome display of acrobatics and a great fun "interactive" use of space and moving the crowd around rather than sitting still and bored for the night. Quite sure I was not alone as on my night a lot of people were laughing and there was a ton of clapping! Maybe this was once the stuck up pretentious theatre crowd had done their times and this was the more fun loving younger crowds going on a Friday night but I / we loved it!! Would highly recommend seeing the last viewings possible.
We made the mistake of seeing this before any ratings had been released. We should have realised the sheer disappointment the night had in store if not from the moment the awful band started playing, then from the unnecessarily long and excruciatingly boring speech what architecture means to one of the characters. Awkward silence and a few polite pity claps often replaced presumably what the actors were hoping would be laughter and a standing ovation. Other than the ribbon dancers, the only enjoyable part of the evening was listening to the rest audience talking amongst their friends about their own shock as to the lack of imagination, plot and especially humour to the night. As if the rest of the performance wasn’t an embarrassment to the Architects enough, for absolutely no obvious reason, the closing of the show included a fat naked man, proudly (although he evidently had nothing to be proud of) strutting his stuff along the stage. I can only imagine the Architects wanted all those who hadn’t already lost the will to live to lose their appetite instead.