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25 September, 2019

Visionary production that takes you on a wonderful journey!

This spectacular stage show is based on the iconic book, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

Beautiful as it is, the book’s all description, no narrative drive, and it is not something you would ever think could be taken to the stage.

Turns out, it can. WOW!

Set in what looks like a huge abandoned warehouse, with a massive central stage divided into 4 corner towers named after the compass points for the audience, Invisible Cities starts like a play but soon becomes more like a living, piece of art.

It centres on a series of conversations between Marco Polo, the travelling adventurer who is held hostage by Kublai Khan, who will not release him until he describes in vivid detail his empire and all the lands it contains.

During the stories, a chorus of amazing dancers move through incredible, architectural choreography with their bodies bringing the cities to life, along with projections of fantastical landscapes on massive, sheer curtains surrounding the audience.

The 3D sound and light projections of water, mountains, jungles, etc. are spectacular and transport you to the exotic environments being described.

Some of the projections, like the moving water on the floor, had me wondering for so long if they were real or an illusion.

I thought some of the dialogue scenes were a little slow to start with but once I had a grasp of what was happening, I found myself mainly focused on the dancers.

Such intense, remarkable choreography, in particular, the beasts in the Monster City, City of the Dead and the striking elastic rope pieces.

I welcomed the 20-minute interval, not to get a break from the show, but because although the venue was extraordinary, there was little ventilation and it was too hot.

Returning for the second half, it was incredible to see a canal complete with gondolier set into the stage to represent Venice.

Well done to the set designers.

We see the rise and fall of more cities, once again with the powerful dance movements injecting a completely different dreamlike mood for each of them.

The last city is one of rubbish that pollutes the canal and environment; an ugly but apt ending after the beauty of the visions before and quite topical at present, giving us all something to think about.

Invisible Cities – ambitious, unique and a well-executed production that I would highly recommend.