What They Forgot to Tell Us (and Other Stories) at BOLD theatre
Part theatre, part exhibition, this hybrid production is certainly a full experience. The debut performance at the new BOLD theatre, What They Forgot to Tell Us (and Other Stories) takes its audience to a work training event they didn’t know they needed before stepping into the venue. It’s real, raw and honest, soap opera melodrama, shining a light on things that happen within a workplace that no one asks about – certainly the things that they forgot to tell us. Instantly, it is reminiscent of The Office, except in this case the audience is a part of the story. In fact, not just a part, but the actual heart of the experience. Voyeurism is taken to a new level as guests watch all-too-naturalistic tasks unfold, but there is something unnatural brewing just below the surface.
From the beginning, this unnatural enemy is The Agency, the almost 1984-esque, dystopian ruler of the world. Viewers are led by them throughout the theatre, absorbing only what they want them to hear and see. They are honest, though, even from the start – because a good story does indeed start with The Agency.
Spread across three floors of the BOLD theatre, the performance features everything from forbidden romance between colleagues to one staff member emotionally winning Employee of the Month. But the seemingly boring plot somehow has the whole audience invested. Everything is connected, and not just by the staircases. After one staircase, crowds are taken into smaller groups. They get to know the cast through various lessons, which all too quickly morph into traumatic stories from their characters’ lives; it is what is left unsaid that is truly powerful. The actors fully emote with their wide eyes, horrific stares and awkward, gulping silences. None of them fall short, but some are definitely stronger than others: performers afraid to improvise instead rely on the script. That being said, it’s a good script. The next floor brings guests to a formal board meeting. Before this, there was no such thing as an engaging board meeting. This is truly a mind-bending optical illusion of workplace life.
The performance transforms from work to school, culminating in an unexpected historical battle with visuals reminiscent of a red light district. It becomes very disturbing, going from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds, which is just what good entertainment should do. There is not much else to say because it needs to be experienced, and only firsthand can that occur.
Photo: Ali Wright
What They Forgot to Tell Us (and Other Stories) is at BOLD theatre from 20th October until 14th November 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.