This Is Capital City is far more audacious than one expects.
Upon reading the provided synopsis, one enters with expectations of something almost quaint – a curious little theatre piece wherein audience members are asked to explore Kelvin Grove’s Urban Village and interact with the citizens of the mysterious Capital City. It conjures ideas of scavenger hunts and pantomimes.
The actual work is drastically different. Infinitely more complex and substantially more visceral, This Is Capital City is a work defined by inescapable paranoia and remarkable stylistic flair. It feels like being thrust into a world of dystopian science fiction or film noir. Alex Proyas‘ Dark City or George Orwell’s 1984. Phillip K Dick. Sin City. Alan Moore. Fallout. It’s an unbelievably canny homage.
Each audience member is provided with a pair of headphones, a mobile phone and a guide. After completing orientation, your inner monologue navigates you into Capital City. Especial compliments to narrator Toby Martin and sound designer Mike Willmett. Charged with capturing a classic noir voice without succumbing to cliche, Martin only continues to prove his place as one of Brisbane’s most exciting young performers.
Mike Willmett’s eerie sound design lends the work much of its appeal. His fractured mix of sirens, disembodied voices, incidental music and broadcast propaganda helps transform Kelvin Grove’s sleek Urban Village into a construct. Even something as simple as a warning prefacing each crossed road – delivered in a distended female voice of institutional assurance – helps bring a disturbing gloss to proceedings.
As the work progresses, one begins to appreciate just how bafflingly complex Carluccio’s work must have been to orchestrate. Participants are presented with a myriad of different potential narrative threads to follow and, at each juncture, performers wait for subtle physical cues to dictate their performance. The occasional technological foible stilts proceedings but, with a work of such scope, it’s miraculous it works at all.
That said, This Is Capital City’s true ace is its writing. It is a gigantic work; a triumph of design and technology – but that would be worthless without such a strong narrative. Punctuated with requisite sci-fi hallmarks (memory loss, totalitarian governments, conspiracy theories), This Is Capital City still manages to develop its own sense of character and dynamic.
Furthermore, it manages to do so while maintaining strong narrative cohesion and progression across multiple divergent storylines. With a work of such a scope, it’s often expected that something will be streamlined and simplified. In technologically-driven work, it’s usually writing. Fortunately, This Is Capital City remains a great work of fiction as well as design throughout. Honestly, it’s just brilliant.
La Boite Indie & Sandra Carluccio with the support of QPAC present
This is Capital City
Created by Sandra Carluccio
Venue: La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre | 6-8 Musk Avenue Kelvin Grove Village
Dates: 8 – 25 May 2013
Times: Tue – Sat 6pm, 7pm & 8pm
Tickets: $22 – $28