It's difficult to be lost for words but from start to finish 'Cages' has you enticed in a world where theatre meets the cinema and reality mixes with technology - the combination is thrilling and electric.
The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith comes alive because what starts out as an empty stage becomes filled with a world - almost everything made up of holograms and visual effects using hi-tech multi-media.
'Cages' transports you to the dystopian world of Anhedonia, a place where emotions have been forbidden and hearts are locked in cages.
Woolf (CJ Baran) is a loner, just surviving, until he 'meets' Madeline (Allison Harvard) - a woman just as peculiar as he is. And so the journey begins as does their quest to keep their love alive without being caught, until they are.
Colour is lost in Anhedonia and 'Cages' is shown in black and white. Speech between characters is not heard, it's illustrated in boxes, just like those old silent Charlie Chaplin movies, and it doesn't seem odd at all, even in 2022, it just works and it's these touches that give the show its uniqueness and edge.
Another standout feature of this gothic romance is the eclectic song list - influenced by different genres - taking in rock, opera, hip hop and pop - each one created just for this show. Although, you might later find yourself humming to a different song because one or two of the show's numbers, through their influences, may remind you of a similar tune.
While the residents of Anhedonia have been forced to live without emotion, you'll find yourself feeling yours. This breathtaking performance will give you goosebumps at times.
Benjamin Romans and CJ Baran are the creators of this clever and artistic triumph, with the latter scheduled to play the lead role of Woolf until October 22, after which, Jack Butterworth will take over.
'Cages' has come to London from across the pond - the LA Times describes it as a “genre-busting game changer” and it is definitely that.
My only criticism would be that it is noticeable that Woolf 's muse Madeline is not present in her physical form which is a shame because the tender moments are seemingly lost. Woolf, therefore, has no real connection to anyone but seeing that intimacy playing out between the couple on stage would have given this performance the only real lift it needed.
But the clever way Woolf performs in conjunction with the 'human' holograms on set is pretty epic.
If strobe lights don't agree with you, then avoid this show, but that should be the only thing that stops you from going to see this real-life/digital wonder.
It runs until 1 January 2023.
Review: Sunita Jaswal