Ghost River Theatre’s Tomorrow’s Child, a special presentation at this year’s SummerWorks Performance Festival, isn’t theatre per se. There aren’t any live performances. Billed as an “immersive audio experience,” it has more in common with the radio plays of a bygone era, or maybe today’s story-based, audio podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale, but evolved to the next level.
Upon checking in at the venue, there’s a short pre-show orientation after which you’re given a blindfold and placed in a small group to form a human chain to be lead into the performance space. You’re seated in a standard-issue office swivel chair and remain blindfolded throughout most of the show.
What struck me immediately as I entered the space was the meticulous quality of the sound design. As you enter, you’re fully immersed in the sounds of a playground full of laughing, screaming kids at play. The sound comes at you from all directions. There are kids playing close to you and others off in the distance.
What sound designers Eric Rose and Matthew Waddell have managed to achieve is nothing short of monumental. From the rumbling subwoofers to the pinpoint accuracy of the dialogue and sound effects, they use an array of speakers arranged around the room to paint these immersive soundscapes in vivid detail. Since you’re blindfolded, your hearing is heightened and you’re able to pick out all the details in the sounds around you. I found myself instinctively swivelling around to face each new source of sound even though I couldn’t see anything.
The show itself is an adaptation of a short story by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, a cerebral yet surprisingly human piece about a couple whose baby is born into a higher dimension. The script, adapted by Rose, Waddell and dramaturg David van Belle, allows the sound designers to jump back and forth between hyper realism and surrealism to great effect. One moment we’re in a very real-sounding hospital waiting room, the next we’re in some abstract fantasy world.
The results are disorienting yet thrilling at the same time. Tomorrow’s Child is well worth checking out as a unique experience.
Tomorrow’s Child plays at Artscape Sandbox (301 Adelaide Street West)
- Thursday August 4th, 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM
- Friday August 5th, 8:00 PM – 9:15 PM
- Friday August 5th, 10:15 PM – 11:30 PM
- Saturday August 6th, 3:45 PM – 5:00 PM
- Monday August 8th, 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM
- Monday August 8th, 10:15 PM – 11:30 PM
- Thursday August 11th, 6:15 PM – 7:30 PM
- Thursday August 11th, 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM
- Friday August 12th, 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM
- Friday August 12th, 8:00 PM – 9:15 PM
- Saturday August 13th, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
- Sunday August 14th, 5:15 PM – 6:30 PM
- Sunday August 14th, 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Youth Series tickets are $10, Live Art Series ticket prices vary. Tickets are available online at summerworks.ca, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
- Photo provided by SummerWorks