Tunnel 228

This event has now finished. Until May 23 2009

© Jeff Moore

Time Out says

Kevin Spacey tweeted about it. Some Punchdrunk followers were led to it via a train company website ('Track ¶ Rail Cleaning Ltd...the buffers that don't grind to a halt!'). And by the time the Guardian ran a news piece on it, it was fully booked. Punchdrunk's new co-project with the Old Vic has, genuinely, been kept underground: the free-of-charge theatre/art installation has had zero conventional publicity and occupies several dark and cavernous disused railway tunnels near Waterloo Station.
Note to desperate fans of the cult immersive theatre company: put down those power shovels and leave the departure room floor alone - Punchdrunk's project, which has an unusually high ratio of post- industrial machinery and sculpture to performance - is set to return in the autumn. It is a dark and haunting trip into the underworld of work: the privileged occupy the upper rooms but the gaping tunnels below is a metaphysical crime scene with dead hoodies, one face down in a slick black puddle (with balloons rising above his back and a little tin train running around him), another propped against the wall with the little metallic tracks of the thing that killed him scuttering up to a hole in the brick work. Soul-death by machine is old school radical terrain and it's good to see this flamboyant company rip off its neo-Gothic frills for a tougher aesthetic and message. Installations like 'The Killing Machine', in which anglepoised motorised drills operate on an empty dentist's chair, feel supercharged down here in the dark, wrapped in Punchdrunk's trademark atmosphere of undpredictable peril. A paper forest, a coffin bursting with baby birds, and a sealed container in which lovers kiss underwater are like gruesomely lyrical exits from the oppressive machine. It's a work in progress in a world which seems to be going nowhere.

Old Vic Tunnels details

Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach Rd, SE1 8SW

Old Vic Tunnels

The potential of the dank manmade caverns beneath Waterloo station was realised by theatre company Punchdrunk and the Old Vic in 2009, when a...

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