The Encounter // 10.4.16

Last Tuesday I saw The Encounter at the Golden Theatre on 45th Street. Transferred here directly from London and a tour, I had literally no idea what to expect so I was super surprised to see headphones on every seat when I arrived. Conceived by (and sometimes performed by) Simon McBurney, the first line in his note to the audience in the Playbill is, “We only see the version of the world that we want to see.” How true is that?! Having spent the last week or so reading Gabby Bernstein’s book, The Universe Has Your Back, I was totally onboard with the fact that what we concentrate on is what we manifest and see in our lives. I was into this play so far.

It was a Tuesday night, so Richard Katz was stepping in for McBurney. We took our seats, put on our headphones, and Katz came out and began the show. The first part of the show was was about how our brains assume a lot and fill in gaps with what we think is most logical. There’s a standing microphone onstage which leads directly into our ears, so as he moves around the microphone it sounds like he’s in back of us, or to our right or left, etc. The concept of seeing what we want to see is very Buddhist and I would’ve enjoyed if the entire 90 minutes were about that, but Katz eventually started telling a story.

The story of The Encounter was about an encounter that the protagonist of the story has with a rarely seen tribe in a Brazilian rainforest whom he is trying to photograph. He uses various sound effects and looping machines (which he produces using his own voice or various inanimate objects) to tell a simple story in a very compelling way. I found the beginning part of the story to be a bit slow, but the last half was more entertaining and quicker paced.

Richard Katz is an unbelievable storyteller. I can’t help but wonder how different it would be to see the creator, McBurney, perform the show, too. 

This is an unbelievably creative and unique piece. Clocking in at 90 minutes (no intermission – score!), it’s totally worth seeing. I mean, when else will you be wearing headphones during a show and thus unable to hear a cell phone go off? That alone is wroth the price of a ticket. 

Hey there everyone… theatre nerds, Martin McDonaugh savants, Harry Potter fans… 

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So, here are a few fun facts about Matilda the Musical:

  • There are eighteen (18!) kids in the show.
  • They never had an invited dress, so one Matilda wouldn’t get the praise above the rest.
  • The role of Matilda is the largest role ever written for such a young (and small) person (she carries about 90% of the show).
  • There were no stops at the first preview tonight.
  • The performance lasted two hours and forty minutes (and this is including the fact that they started a bit late too).
  • The score (which I heard for the first time tonight) is still in my head. (This never happens.)

I’ll post my more formal-ish review after opening night. But for now: just go buy your tickets. You’ll thank me after it opens and tickets are no longer available, like what happened to The Producers (except this is way better – The Producers, IMO, was garbage).