I’ll be honest; it took me a long time to write this review properly.
The Great Mouse Plague is a very intelligent, poignant piece of immersive theatre which focuses more on creating experiences for the audience than making complete sense.
And yes, it definitely made me feel something.
As soon as I entered the theatre, a man in a mouse suit handed me a mask and told me to dance.
But everyone around me was either dancing along or gathering in giggling gaggles to talk about just how weird it all was. So I danced.
Then, after some arbitrary deadline had been met, everyone was lead to their seats for the opening skit, five minutes of dialogue between a cat and an irate audience member. Bizzarely, this ended with the entire audience being ushered out of the room, then out of the building and into the car park.
Is this part of the show? It’s freezing out here.
A few moments later and we’re back in the theatre wondering what the hell that was all about.
But then the lights dim and it becomes a different show entirely. Ridiculusmus have an easy, rehearsed give-and-take style that comes over really well, making for a fluid and rapid production. They know what they want to achieve and exactly how to do it.
Being labelled both ‘Contemporary’ and ‘Immersive’, there are places where you can’t be sure what’s going on. Is something actually going wrong here, or do we just play along? Is this supposed to be funny or sad?
The production flows between scenes and characters like a stream of consciousness, sometimes doubling back on itself, or jumbling elements together. There might be no change of scene, but one performer suddenly becomes a completely different character to the audience, layering meaning on top of the show.
And it carries on this way, growing into a series of loosely-connected scenes, spiderwebbing out until it becomes one big story about a lot of little mice.
It’s pretty much a theatrical jigsaw puzzle; it gives you all the pieces, but you have to put the pieces together yourself, finding meaning in the loose ends you’re forced to tie together.
So The Great Mouse Plague is, if nothing else, a show to think about. It engages the brain and has you doing emotional backflips between uncomfortable-but-funny and cathartically depressing, topped off with the saddest biscuit in the world.
If you have the chance see Ridiculusmus, do it. The Great Mouse Plague really is Great.
– Elliot Garlick