Buckingham Arms Hotel
Until 04 Mar 2018

Review by Jamie Wright

In this creative production, Bad Neighbour Theatre have conceived a work that immerses audiences in the mind of one of the literary world’s most mysterious figures: eccentric 18th-century American poet Emily Dickinson, who was barely known in her lifetime but elevated to high status after thousands of her poems were published after her death.

The small audience is taken upstairs to a suite of three rooms in the Buckingham Arms Hotel and there given into the care of an unnamed attendant who acts as a kind of narrator, guide and sound operator, and who at time interacts with actress Miranda McCauley, who portrays Dickinson in a spectacularly compelling performance.

We are moved from room to room as ‘Dickinson’ speaks and recites poetry; we hold string or cloth or flowers. To eat strawberries or to engage in compulsive behaviours. At one point we’re asked to write down our thoughts on pieces of paper. At other times, we’re asked to answer philosophical questions about life and death. No matter what the answer, McCauley reacts in character – and we are getting to ‘know’ Emily and her poetry in a way no other kind of interaction would.

It’s a fascinating and compelling way to be exposed to an artist’s work and, while it’s definitely not for people who like their fourth wall kept intact, for those who enjoy interactive theatre it’s a wonderfully engaging experience.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)