You can tell at a glance she is both damaged and desirable. A black eye mars her pretty face. Blood dribbles from her lips. She’s been drinking. A large scary looking man in a suit strides away. She is distraught. Men and women in masks surround her, but it is you she notices. “Bob?” she calls.
Your name isn’t Bob but you say nothing. She seems convinced she knows you. She grabs your arm and drags you into her tiny mobile home. A woman in a mask is nosing around but she tosses her out imperiously. She slams the door and the two of you are alone. She takes off your mask, pulls you towards a little mirror on the wall. She rubs her body against yours as you stare at your two faces framed in the mirror. “It is you,” she coos.
She manoeuvres you to a tiny table and pours two shots of tequila from a silver hip flask. You take a sip, wondering if it is just coloured sugar water, but no it is tequila, actually quite good tequila. She looks deep into your eyes, tells you she would recognise your green eyes anywhere. She launches into a rambling and tedious story about a dream. She comes even closer. Your bodies are touching. She nuzzles your neck, smells your essence. At that point, she recognizes her mistake.
“You’re not Bob.” Your green eyes may have fooled her but your smell gives you away. She shifts from intimate and seductive to furious.
“Get out,” the actress screams. You knock back your shot of tequila and exit the trailer, ready for whatever comes next.
The acclaimed theatre company Punchdrunk has taken an abandoned building near Paddington station and transformed it into a surreal 1960s film studio and its surrounding small town squalor. It ain’t Mamma Mia, not even Waiting for Godot. The Drowned Man feels a bit more like an acid trip than a normal West End show.
You arrive at the door at the appointed time, get on an industrial elevator, put on a mask and are discharged to explore four floors of meticulously art directed Americana. Anyone you see without a mask is an actor and you follow them to try to piece together the story. With 39 actors and countless rooms, you only get glimpses of the…