– by Alex O’Neil
‘Everything Unknown’, brought to us by interactive UK theatre company Non Zero One, has something special that distinguishes it from other theatrical performances that you might have seen at Fringe thus far – it’s an immersive audio piece that uses the imagination and reality interchangeably.
Set upon the iconic Cottesloe beach the main, and only, character isn’t visible, she delivers her performance from the beaches of England and paints a vivid picture of her surrounds. The intimate performance spans the ocean depths and takes you cross continental on an expedition of whimsy, using the physical setting of busy Cottesloe beach, as an imagined alternate reality.
I rolled up to the Cottesloe Beach Hotel, not quite sure of where to go for an “immersive 30 minute audio journey in headphones.” Following the Fringe posters I made a quick discovery of the ‘Everything Unknown’ display and was given an mp3 and some instructions – make your way to the beach (solo, of course), pause 10 paces from water’s edge, and press play.
I felt a little silly at first, and it seemed a little perverse almost. To be paused, listening, watching, and waiting for instructions from an mp3, all the while surrounded by a lazy shore full of curious beach-goers wondering whom the strange girl standing still and staring at the ocean was.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from ‘Everything Unknown’. Which, in hindsight, is perhaps why I enjoyed it so much. If you like people watching, this is for you. It allows you to watch and to be watched, in a way that is at first awkward but fast becomes a welcome experience. It is the best kind of spectacle.
It is one of the most immersive performances I have had the pleasure of experiencing. You are one place, yet somewhere else entirely. If you have been busy at work, or stuck for inspiration this performance is wonderfully thought provoking and I guarantee you will leave feeling meditated full of creative energy. If only there was a series of them, all individualised, set in other iconic places around Perth.
If I can make some suggestions… Dress comfortably. I wore a dress and the coast was unrelentingly windy on the day, whipping said dress and hair back and fourth, and not in the ironically fun Willow Smith fashion. Also, you will want to take it individually. Don’t go with a friend and stand together, it will detract from the experience. The performance is intended to be individual; the soul audience member is you. My friend and I staggered our sessions, stood separately, and left feeling all the richer for it.
The show ran until the 23rd of February at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel.
Photo credit: Everything Unkown