The Woman Who Forgot brings immersive theatre to New Zealand Festival
Audiences are invited to step into the shoes of a main character in an immersive theatre piece, playing out in Wellington for the first time as part of the New Zealand Festival.
In the show The Woman Who Forgot, audience members embody the character of Elizabeth Snow, who wakes up on a bus one morning with amnesia.
Snow's voice plays out through a specially created app and headphones, and becomes as if it's in your own thoughts.
Initially, all she knows is that she – like the audience – is on a bus, her mouth is warm and her face is hot.
"Something is happening and I don't remember," she says.
The rest is a mystery pieced together over the next 60-90 minutes, as the show weaves its way through Wellington city as Snow tries to decipher what happened the night before.
Created by writer Rachel Davies and director Jess Feast, the show was written as a film, recorded as a radio play and plays out as an immersive digital experience, or adventure theatre.
"We wanted to make a show that used new technology in a new way but equally was a compelling story," Feast said.
Be aware confused looks will ensue when members of the public, who all feel like extras, see people standing in a group staring at each other intently in silence.
Immersive theatre has been done before in the United Kingdom, but the concept is a first for New Zealand.
An app specific to the show has been created by Joe Dixon, which people must download before the show begins.
It allows them to hear Snow's running commentary through headphones, along with all the voices of the actors she meets along the way.
"You are a desperate, horny, rich, boozehound," says confronting character Eddy, played by Joe Dekkers-Reihana.
All voices are pre-recorded, so although the performance is happening around the audience, no one speaks live.
"She seems more coherent today," a hotel concierge says calmy, before shedding light on various debauched acts Snow carried out the previous night.
Snow's creative descriptions of herself are entertaining enough - "I'm a meat covered skeleton crossing the road," she exclaims in a moment of clarity.
The show and app were 18 months in the making.
It has been tailored to Wellington, but Feast said the concept could work in other centres in New Zealand.
The Woman Who Forgot opens on March 2 and runs until March 9.
Shows leave every 15 minutes from 12pm-2pm and 6pm-9pm from Wellington Railway Station.