I’m given the address of a house in Belgium. At my allotted time, I will find that the door to the building is open and that I can make my way inside, leaving personal belongings in the front room before exploring the rest of the residence. Doors that are closed should remain closed.
I’m bizarrely not that apprehensive about this with my only real issue being that I’d feel way more comfortable essentially breaking and entering into a house in my home country! Other than that, I guess things have slowly led to this over the last few years! It’s inevitable that events are going to find ways of breaking that boundary between reality and illusion. After all, that’s the goal, isn’t it?
We became familiar with Quietus after going through Interieur a couple of months back. Back then it was apparent that they were (in collaboration with Faceless Ventures) set on forging their own path and my instructions for Facsimile supported that.
Let’s get this out the way right now as I’m sure the comparisons are inevitable given the review that we put out for Interieur; I didn’t enjoy Facsimile as much. Swirling this around in my head, Interieur’s heightened situations appealed to me more than Facsimile’s grim realism. Facsimile felt authentic and, with that, didn’t deliver the same level of escapism that I enjoy from these events. Don’t for a single second get us wrong here, we still very much appreciated Facsimile but, choosing between the two, Interieur wins out. Purely a personal preference thing!
The opening was fantastic, exploring an actual house was a brilliant concept and well executed too – for the longest time, the place seemed completely empty until I took a (very) wrong turn! At which point I was at the lead character’s mercy. From there on in, Facsimile became a barrage on the senses as guests are subjected to all manner of ordeals as we learn more about this man and possibly why he’s doing the things that he is.
And, in that, there’s a solid justification for everything that’s going on. That’s something that has always been a concern of mine with these ‘stronger’ shows – that you’re just handing yourself over to someone for an hour of simulated torture. I don’t have an issue with them doing whatever – after all, we get the waivers ahead of time, we have an idea as to what might go down. But, if it’s just going to be senseless and without context, I’m not that interested.
Here, you enter a man’s home and the first sight that stands out is the body of his latest victim in the bathroom. Maybe looking where I wasn’t meant to look at the time, I couldn’t help but notice that the bathtub was full of water and really hoped that it didn’t come into play later (it did)! It’s no spoiler to reveal that we eventually encounter the occupant of the home, the outcome of which you can probably predict considering that there’s a dead body in the bathroom! After your initial dealings with him, however, Facsimile takes a turn, potentially delving into why this man is the way that he is.
Although enjoy isn’t the right word, I was very impressed with what Quietus had done with Facsimile. Clearly, considering just the introductory setup alone, a lot of thought had gone into the presentation of the production and it made what I’d deem good use of the ‘extreme’ aspects – employing them as a method of eliciting empathy. A character can reel off all the problems that they have but, as the old adage goes, ‘show, don’t tell’. So, these trials were, to me, a necessary part of the story that Quietus were telling. By the time you reach the finale, you have well and truly walked in the lead’s shoes.
Now, this next part, I’m really not sure that I should say at all but, upon stepping out of Facsimile, it was one of my pervading thoughts. And that was that the three actors I encountered were all damn good at what they were doing. Though only one delivered what you would call a full performance, all three of them had demonstrably spent a lot of time running through this thing. People (non-immersive fans) that I’ve talked about specifics with have, understandably, been horrified. And then I weirdly have to explain that, yeah, on paper it doesn’t sound all that safe but the guys running it absolutely made it feel so. Offering enough of an experience to get the point across but straddling that line with precision.
So my only real issue with Facsimile reared its head in the finale. For a show that was pretty passive (in the sense that it required very little action from guests), Facsimile suddenly asked me to do something, an action that was pretty significant too. For me, carrying out what I’d been tasked with didn’t sit right with what I would’ve personally done in that situation. But I had no choice so had to it. The fact that I was forced into doing it probably does speak to the man’s ultimate predicament, an existence where he is ultimately controlled by outside elements. But I’d like to think that we can always make a choice, even if our decisions may doom us! Just to add though, I’ve since discovered that the ending had two (randomly elected) outcomes and the other scenario sounded more in line with the choice that I would’ve made in that situation. So just bad luck on my part!
All in, Facsimile won’t be for everyone, being a more physical ride than Quietus’ previous event. Anyone that attended though would have found the same respect for narrative and overall experience that their prior work displayed.
Facsimile - Quietus
+ Brilliant premise
+ Consideration of narrative
+ Performances were balanced to precision
- Ending didn't gel with my own personal choice
Facsimile was well executed with a narrative that actually went somewhere. Between this and Interieur, Quietus have demonstrated that they're ones to watch for fresh, well-thought-out experiences
Price Paid: €25