1:00 AM 2nd December 2023
Intermission Is Like Putting Your Soul On A Spin Cycle
Intermission is like putting your soul on a spin cycle
Are these actors, or angels? How a transformative experience of wellness and theatre restored me to my factory settings.
The Intermission experience begins well before you step through the theatre doors. Firstly, you complete a pre-performance questionnaire positioned as a gentle virtual conversation in a zen consultation room. Although I can only assume this was done via AI, I was astounded by the soothing and intuitive way it was conducted, setting the tone perfectly for the cast members I encountered during the actual performance.
This is far from your standard theatre visit, and Riptide cleverly uses disorientation to deepen the experience. For a start, it isn't in a theatre; the entry point is a nondescript coded door positioned between two takeaways in a bog-standard part of Leeds City Centre which adds rather than detracts from the experience.
From the moment you enter, you feel like you’ve stepped into a parallel universe. One where people don’t watch TV at full volume on devices without headphones. Where everything is muted, graceful and smells wonderful.
In fact, so used are we to the harsh realities of our daily environment that it’s almost too good to be true. Part of me felt like I could be pranked at any moment for taking part rather too enthusiastically.
You’re encouraged on arrival to hand over your possessions so that you can immerse yourself in the ‘theatre’. The performance comprises of ten, eight-minute ‘treatments’, cleverly sequenced to build to a gentle crescendo.
All of the ‘actors’ are inquisitive and genuine, with what feels like an authentic interest in your wellbeing. And thanks to the questionnaire, you’re struck by how much they seem to already know about you. The answers are very subtly woven into all of the interactions, something which seems to build towards the end of the experience and leave you feeling like you know yourself that little bit more. Are these actors? Or are they angels? By the end of the first treatment, you don't really care.
I won't give away too much about what each experience looks like. But what I will say is that it’s immersive, tender, and nudges one's faith in human nature and oneself up a notch. There’s a curiosity and care that many of us find lacking in our daily lives.
This is an experience that will have particular value to those who may feel disconnected or isolated, or feel aware of their sensitivity in a harsh world.
My advice would be to hand yourself over wholeheartedly and let them restore you to your factory settings.
I know that £44 pounds is far from loose change. But the value of touch, eye contact, kindness and curiosity is immeasurable.
On until 23 December. More information - www.theriptide.co.uk/intermission