Last night I went to see ‘The Black Diamond’, an ‘immersive mix of real life cinematic experience’, presented as a peripatetic performance in several locations across Shoreditch. The project was created by the superbly brilliant theatre collective, Punch Drunk, in collaboration with Mother London for Stella Artois Black.
Devised as a film noir love story set in the 1960s, the plot is revealed in a series of surreal situations and settings, using the city as a stage for the action to unfold. After meeting in Old Street station and answering a ringing public pay phone, we were immediately thrown into a tale of crime, loss, mystery and desire: unearthing dark secrets and clues along the journey relating to the missing, cursed black diamond. The audience were not mere spectators, we became participants.
Moments within the experience were incredibly intense and explored the possibilities for theatre, which breaks down the ‘fourth wall’. Having been bundled into a vintage car by an actor, a key scene unfolded between the two other passengers: the female protagonist Lola Coeur, and the traitor, Lucas Chabrol. It was the closest I’ve come to being a voyeur, as I watched them kiss inches away from me, and it really did feel like we had been transported inside a black and white film.
The sets and attention to detail were fantastic, and what I’ve come to expect from a Punch Drunk production. The project is also intended to be experienced through online interactive elements presented by Stella Artois Black, divulging background information to the characters and plot.