Immersive Theatre Review - A Morte do Corvo

A couple of weeks ago, I paid my second visit to the beautiful city of Lisbon – and my second visit to what is, as far as I am aware, the largest immersive show currently running in Europe.

While Edgar Allen Poe themed show, A Morte do Corvo was scheduled to finish on 21 April, the set will be remaining intact the old military hospital that has been its home, and some extra weekend performances have already been listed for May. The main run was extended three times, and I’m sure its army of fans will be crossing everything that it won’t be a case of Nevermore after the May weekends – and yes, I’m very proud of that pun.

A Morte do Corvo uses the same broad format as Punchdrunk productions, with a masked audience wandering freely through the set, choosing how to engage with the story. It’s a format that I think can probably be considered a genre in its own right, these days, but A Morte do Corvo doesn’t feel derivative, or as though it’s simply aspiring to recreate the Punchdrunk experience. There’s a freshness to the production – a sense that you’re seeing something entirely new and original. This  may be partly due to the fact that the majority of the very international audience are clearly entirely unfamiliar with the conventions of this style of immersive theatre – I saw several instances of audience members failing to realise that the extended hand of a performer represented an invitation to a private scene – but that freshness mostly stems from the energy and commitment of the talented cast, and the vision of the show’s creators.

It is a visually beautiful production, with a series of striking images which give you a feeling of walking through an expensive coffee table book of 1920s photographs. There’s particularly effective use of lighting and colour, and there’s a sumptuousness to many parts of the set, and to some of the costumes. I think the scale of the show is pitched perfectly, with a set that is large enough to allow for a satisfying sense of exploration, but not so sprawling that you lose time doing laps of empty spaces. It feels as though there is always something happening, with constant choices to make about who to follow when various characters collide in a scene, before breaking apart once again and drawing parts of the audience away with them. I never felt as though I was marking time, or missing out on something more interesting – every part of the show feels equally compelling and relevant.

A Morte do Corvo’s relatively small audience means that it’s a more intimate experience than some of the other immersive shows I’ve seen. There were times when I was the only person watching a scene unfold, or following a particular performer through the set, and there were very few moments when I found myself shuffling around in search of a clear view. The post-show bar on the set is a nice touch, allowing the audience to chat and share experiences. There was a friendliness to the whole show, with most people seeming to be aware of their fellow audience members, and trading apologetic gestures for inadvertent collisions, or smiles for some of the humorous moments.

This show is a stunning addition to the ever growing world of immersive theatre, and I very much hope that it won’t be this team’s only venture into that world.

A Morte do Corvo tickets are available through Fever or Ticketline