★★★ | The Roof

A door opens and an immaculate figure steps out onto a roof. Knives are sharpened and the game begins. Set within the suspended reality of a brutal and unforgiving game, this mix of intimate three-dimensional sound and free running aims to transport the audience into the body of a reluctant hero, desperate to stay alive.

Following Electric Hotel and Motor Show, The Roof is Requardt and Rosenberg’s third production and takes place in a purpose-built arena designed by Jon Bausor, set designer for the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

The Roof is a blend of dance, free-running inspired moves and surreal fragments of disconnected stories. Staged in a car park at the back of The National Theatre, the set is a multi-level 360-degree panoramic creation. A figure emerges and begins trying to complete levels on a game, aiming to rescue a D.J. trapped in a small box representing her brashly decorated bedroom. The game is one that the audience, standing watching, are immersed in via headphones and witty sound design. The opening moment where a heavy breathing figure appears to run across the gravel, approach you from the back and whisper into your ear was inspired and left the audience all looking round in alarm.

It all sounded really exciting. The rain held off, the audience stood poised for a unique and immersive experience but sadly, the show failed to deliver. The free-running element felt tired and relentless and lacked thrill. I’ve definitely seen better examples of free running. The narrative felt slightly contrived and weak with a script that didn’t always work and the dance moves, although imaginative, failed to glue the piece together. The costumes were inventive and wouldn’t have looked out of place on a t-shirt designed by a hipster from Hackney (women in 70s suits with rabbit faces with no eyes, surreal drum majorettes and people with triangular heads).

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I liked elements of the show (mainly the really clever and immersive sound design and the occasional glimpses of humour) but on the whole the show left me a bit cold, in spite of it being a warm night. Looking round at the rest of the audience and a lot of slightly bored expressions, I could see I wasn’t alone in this.

The Roof runs until 28th of June 2014

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Buy tickets here: www.liftfestival.com

About the author: Chris Bridges
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He's usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.