Secret challenges in No Man's Land

Audience members in the Cage Room of the No Man's Land set.
Audience members in the Cage Room of the No Man's Land set.PHOTO: OH! OPEN HOUSE

Audiences at this immersive theatre show held at a secret location have to be reasonably fit

The immersive theatre experience of No Man's Land begins the minute one buys a ticket.

There are no production brochures or synopsis or even a location given for the show. Suspense ratchets until, closer to the day, cellphones buzz with text message instructions.

The spice of secrecy around this production has sold out all tickets this month, with the run extended on Sundays to April.

However, this is not a show for everyone. It is open only to viewers 18 and older. A mother and her eight-year-old daughter were turned away for good reason on the day I attended.

  • REVIEW / THEATRE

  • NO MAN'S LAND

    OH! Open House

    Singapore Art Week/Last FridayArts Correspondent

Participants should be reasonably fit as well. Falling down a rabbit hole is easy, but there are greater physical challenges to be overcome before entering this wonderland from OH! Open House.

  • BOOK IT / NO MAN'S LAND

  • WHERE: Secret location. Ticket-holders will be informed by text message on the selected day.

    WHEN: This month's run is sold out. 6, 7.15 & 8.30pm shows on Sunday from Feb 14 to April 10.Latecomers will not be able to join.

    ADMISSION: $57.70 from ohopenhouse.peatix.com. Tickets selling fast.

    INFO: Go to www.nomansland.sg. For those aged 18 and older. For your safety, you should be in good physical health as you may be subjected to challenging conditions.

No Man's Land goes beyond the signature art walkabouts usually organised by the company.

Past walking tours transformed private living spaces or corporate offices in the Marina Bay Financial district into transient museums.

No Man's Land provides a similar sense of surrealism for the audience, transforming the environment around them and transporting them away from the everyday.

The show is designed for 15 viewers at a time. There are similarities to last year's tour of Joo Chiat Road, but rather than having guides share second-hand stories, singer Samantha Rui shares parts of her life and performing a haunting melody.

Other performers appear in turn, some to guide the group forward, some to make the audience perform in turn.

Director Alan Oei and his production team, aided by multimedia designer Ong Kian Peng, have put a lot of thought into the spaces used. Their set designs range from clinically sterile exhibition areas to murky rooms and are emotionally effective, if one-tone.

I would have preferred variation beyond shades of grey and gloom. The lighting should also have been better designed to enable viewers to read the notes scattered around the sets.

In this kind of immersive theatre, the audience gets what it puts in and most in my group of Singaporeans and foreign visitors were visibly moved by their participation.

I was left cold, partly because of the stormy weather and also because I dislike being hit over the head repeatedly, no matter how valuable the message.

Some useful advisories were sent too late via text message for a few of the participants in my group, so here they are again: Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes one can move freely in.

I also advise taking along an umbrella and jacket in case of cold and wet weather.

Judging by the awed smiles and choked speech of my fellow viewers, I was the only one unaffected.

Oei and his team know their audience and how to turn no man's land into a place where most have a stake in the outcome.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Secret challenges in No Man's Land'. Print Edition | Subscribe