Come Bargain With Uncanny Things (November 2022)
An interactive, immersive opera in which you come and bargain with uncanny things.
Come Bargain With Uncanny Things is a supernatural ritual. Set in an alternate London of eldritch creatures making bargains from the shadows, and a caste of bargainers touching these taboo things under the supervision of cautious locals - our audience - it is (artistically) an exploration of how we relate to our community and wider world and (practically) a chance to feel like you're doing magic, which is really fun.
This is the project that has felt most distinctively 'me'. With tools developed over four years, it created a ritualistic experience that - if audiences are to be believed - was quite unlike anything else they'd ever experienced. It was not just highly interactive (and thus it being live mattered), but the music let them feel as though they were in another world.
This was a gamble for me; one that paid off in sell-out houses, ongoing conversations about further development, and above all, the chance to watch audiences - drawn in by puzzle solving, crafting, and the team's craft - find themselves passionately trying to help their community, whether by healing, helping, or researching.
For me, I think that was what was most delightful: one core idea in the piece was that music does strange things, building other worlds and bringing us together. An early audience member called it "cosy and disconcerting" - that is to say, yes, it was eldritch, and wyrd, but it was also a chance for adults to feel safe enough to play and think about playing, admitting that for now, they did care about the imagined people of our world, and were enthralled enough to work with everyone else to save them.
I do hope it comes back - but for now, thanks to everyone who's supported it, from its work in progress sharing at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival in 2021 a residency in Aldeburgh thanks to a Britten Pears Creative Retreat, and direct support from the Royal Victoria Hall Foundation and the International Opera Awards Foundation.
You can also watch a video of the WIP below, and read numerous blogs about it here.
“an original, atmospheric, immersive role-play opera with real promise.” ★★★★
“the best time I've had in YEARS at an interactive show... easy to follow but incredibly reactive” ★★★★★
- Tom Black, co-creator,
Crisis? What Crisis?
“boundless in opportunity for audience improvisation/ interactivity.”
- DesignMyNight, based on 21 audience reviews
A particular highlight: "Uncannily enjoyable. Wyrdly entertaining. Unsettling wholesome. Good excuse to wear black lipstick. I would go back."
“Was this opera?... I enjoyed the experience.”