Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Parallel Cities:Shopping Centre: The First International of Shopping Malls

Linga (Hamburg/Berlin)Image

Undisclosed mall location, Cork

Reviewed on 23 June 2012 by Caroline Allen, Robert Galvin, Art Kellegher, Aoife Lanigan, and Madi O’Carroll

Parallel Cities:Shopping Centre: The First International of Shopping Malls was like drawing your head out of the Matrix and taking a real look at the world around you. In the past, the production company Ligna have put together a number of immersive performances. The audience listen through headphones and are directed by a pre-recorded set of instructions.

It would be a shame to live in Cork and not experience this show. Whether you consider yourself an extravert or an introvert, this treasure hunt (for a treasure you’re not supposed to want) will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. It’s likely everyone will experience something different – from your first reaction to the shopping centre to your final impression as you walk out the shopping centre door.

From the word go, we’re invited to observe the shopping centre from the position of an outside agent, and see the world of commodities for what it really is. The instructions initially seemed to have no meaning, but as the performance progressed the anti-consumerist message became clearer, as we were invited to become seceret agents in an underground movement. As the shopping centre speaks, both metaphorically and literally, we finally become aware of the monontony of consumer culture.

The experience was somewhat bizarre, as it challenges our perception of everyday life, as well as asking what can be considered performance. It asks questions about the choices we make and are made for us.

The question that this piece leaves us with: is this really theatre? We found the line between reality and drama blurred, joining the audience and the performance as one. Without this division, it is somewhat unclear as to what we felt leaving the shopping centre.

A thought-provoking, captivating and sometimes uncomfortable production, this piece from the Parallel Cities project was quite unforgettable. An extraordinary vision of ordinary life was presented to us all, challenging us to reconsider modern life as we know it.

Parallel Cities is presented as part of Cork Midsummer Festival


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