Immersed in the interactive
Friday 1st September 2017 @ 11:00 by Nigel Skinner

The Royal Exchange Young Company performed the site specific promenade production of ‘We Were Told There Was Dancing’ in the basement of the Royal Exchange buildings, created by Matt Hassall and the Young Company.

This totally immersive and interactive theatrical piece depicted the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act that decriminalised homosexuality in 1967 in England and Wales.

The Young Company have had great success with their previous productions of ‘Nothing’ and ‘The Factory’ and this production designed by Bethany Wells was remarkable.

The audience became part of the unique storytelling as we were provided with a coded message sent prior to the performance before we could enter the building.

We were greeted with hospitable refreshment in the dark domain and issued with identities, then led through the labyrinth of rooms where we were met with different perspectives of scenarios charged with themes of love, desperation and vulnerability.

The talented Young Company captured the essence and atmosphere of the times with clandestine meetings within the backdrop of the eerie space.

The performances were enigmatic and energised, especially the letter reading scene and protest march preparations for LGBT rights in response to the Clause 28 rally of 1988.

This devised dramaturgy was a moving and physical composition with strong emotional, political undercurrents.

Review by Denise Evans

In the pictures – scenes from the production.