Operasonic’s new project Nightmare Scenario revolves around an imaginary war and the consequences of decisions that have to be made, including by the audience/participants.
Now this may make Nightmare Scenario terribly worthy, and, yes, it does tackle dark subjects surrounding warfare, tribalism/nationalism, their effects on individuals along with that individual and group responsibility – even the consequences of abstaining. But it is all done in such a dynamic, immersive, gentle participatory way, combining drama with opera singing and a range of musical genres, that it is all pure pleasure.
It not only engages and encourages people, younger and older to get off their backsides, make decisions and moral judgements, to balance pros and cons of situations, and, shock, horror, think, but also entertains, amuses and delights.
The action starts in the foyer of The Riverfront, we move to the Gallery to meet storyteller/story hunter Aggie Cornog, played as a charming yet slightly chilling character by Natalie Paisey who subtly ensnares us in her web of tale weaving, and then takes us down through the Basement of the theatre from one space to another, up and down staircases, through gauzes, drapes and tarpaulins, where scenes are played out – with us as participant.
Directed by Rhian Hutchings, designer by Ruth Stringer and lit by Ace McCarron, the players lead and guide us through a visual and sound world of storytelling. We meet characters Benita, Habib and Saddiq, a young lost orphan girl who has discovered that life she has been lied to about her identity, the troubled soldier whose troops are cut off from their army and the damaged, revenge-filled dictator of a militaristic state. The three characters are sung and acted splendidly by Sara Lian Owen, Adam Jondelius and Andrew Slater, all deftly delivering the words and music of Martin Riley, Stephen Deazley and Martin Parker.
This world is locked in a worldly combat but this also a world where the elements are also at play and while we have free will there is the inevitability of fate and events being cyclical.
To tell any more would both destroy the interactive experience of this adventure which, with the right level of backing, should be further developed for touring in 2018/19.