Theatre Review - Kagami

Kagami at the Roundhouse

THERE’S some faff before the show starts. You have to collect a headset and if you’re wearing prescription glasses you join another queue to get your tailored lenses. Once the equipment is fitted, you need to look for a red cube in the centre of the performance space – this proves it’s working.

The late Ryuichi Sakamoto’s body of work spans electronic and classical composition, large-scale art installations, and original scores for films including Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, The Last Emperor and The Revenant. Inevitably, devotees of Sakamoto’s exquisite piano playing will reap the most from Tin Drum’s mixed reality show.

Prior to his death last year, Sakamoto worked with Todd Eckert and the Tin Drum team to produce this virtual performance, experienced with the aid of optically transparent mixed reality glasses.

A ghostlike Sakamoto performs on his grand piano accompanied by striking visuals from falling snowflakes and raindrops to expanding tree root under our feet.

Kagami is presented in surround sound, and audience members are free to watch the concert seated or to explore the space.

I strongly encourage the latter as some of the dimensional art is more impressive from a standing perspective. I also loved watching Sakamoto close-up and audience members melt away in front of my eyes.

This immersive experience is a glimpse into the future in which the reality of live performance is deliberately blurred and artists can continue to entertain us long after their death.

Call me old fashioned but, however stunning the spectacle, I prefer to watch live/alive musicians who can interact with their audience. I felt the same about ABBA Voyage.

There is clearly an audience for this kind of event. Kagami has enjoyed sold out runs in New York and Manchester and will surely win new fans in London.

NB The headsets are not approved for use by children under the age of 14.

Until January 21

Originally published by Camden New Journal