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Review: Operation Elsewhere - Big Telly Theatre bring their live, virtual, interactive, family show to your living room

Operation Elsewhere is Big Telly Theatre's solo digital interactive theatre project having worked with Creation Theatre on The Tempest recently (review here).

Operation Elsewhere big telly theatre 1

It is similar in style, using Zoom to bring live performance and audience together virtually.

Based on Irish myths but with a contemporary twist, the world of the fairies - Elsewhere - collides with the human world as a fairy becomes a changeling for a bride-to-be.

With the help of various characters from the fairy world, the audience goes on a mission to help rescue the bride from Elsewhere before she forgets who she is.

The actors use green-screen to transport themselves and the audiences to various places including a particularly fun fly-over.

Elsewhere's magical and mythical landscape is cleverly brought to life with the use of other digital gizmos which turn actors hands and body into images as if you can 'see' through them to another world. 

Operation elsewhere big telly theatre 2
Audience participation is voluntary, you can sit back and watch if you prefer but it is fun to take part.

During the parts of the story when you can get involved you may get spotlighted and appear on everyone's screens albeit briefly.

There is also a particularly fun part involving a mobile phone call - I won't say more as it will spoil it except to say that the volunteer during my show was genius with their improvisation.

All these moments really enhance the experience - you get the sense that you are sharing an experience with strangers as you would sitting in a theatre.

It's what is missing from streamed theatre unless there is live commenting - but that can get distracting.

There are times during the show when props are called for and some people seemed to have things to hand which did make me wonder whether I'd missed some sort of announcement or instruction.

Operation elsewhere big telly theatre 3

The pace of the narrative is quite rapid so you don't have time to run off and grab something suitable which is a shame.

My advice would be to have a few random items to hand. The actors' props and costumes are all imaginatively improvised from their own wardrobes and what they have to hand so there is an element of fun randomness to the production.

As with The Tempest at the end, after the actors have all taken a bow, the digital wizardry is turned off and you get to see them take down the green screen to reveal the space in their own home they've been using to perform.

Operation Elsewhere is silly fun and a great show for the family if you are looking for something a bit different to merely watching along.

There are two performances today and another two tomorrow, and you can find details and buy tickets on Big Telly Theatre's website.

You might also like to read:

Interview with Big Telly's Zoe Seaton about Operation Elsewhere and producing interactive theatre during lockdown.

10th birthday list: Best play of each of the past 10 years of theatre blogging - or the agony to compile list.

From the archive: My first experience going to the V&A archive to watch a play recording