The Encounter, EICC, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Simon McBurney (director), Michael Levine (design), Gareth Fry (sound design), Paul Anderson (lighting).
Simon McBurney
Running time

Théâtre de Complicité was co-founded by actor and director Simon McBurney in 1983, a Lecoq-inspired company creating an “inimitable style of visual and devised theatre - strong, corporeal, poetic and surrealist.” Two years later they won the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Now, thirty years on, Complicite is on the Edinburgh International Festival with McBurney performing what is, in essence, a stand up show – a man and a microphone on stage.

But during this multi-layered, inventively theatrical experience, the audience encounters a host of characters and exotic creatures along the way, transported on a magical, mystery tour in darkest Brazil.

Like taking any journey, arrive in good time at the EICC, down two flights of escalators to the Lennox 3 suite, a vast arena with an extensive stage. The rows of plastic seats is more like a pop up Fringe venue (bring a cushion) with fitted head-phones. Sit back to hear an extraordinary real life adventure story.

Loren McIntyre first sailed the Amazon River in 1935 at the age of 18. Brandishing notebook and camera he toured Japan, China, Singapore, India, Africa and South America. with an insatiable spirit for adventure. In the Peruvian Andes is Laguna McIntyre, the uppermost source of the Amazon River which he discovered in 1971.

“The Encounter” is based on as described in the book ” Amazon Beaming” by Petru Popescu. This is an account of McIntyre’s life-enriching, death-defying experience after being kidnapped by the Mayoruna tribe, sharing their magical spiritual journey to find the "beginning of time" beyond the reach of civilization.

Simon McBurney stands on stage in baseball cap, T shirt and jeans. He is both himself as the narrator, switching in an instant to the role of McIntye (a deep, purring American voice akin to Harrison Ford). Time shifts from present to past, travelling in space and place from his London family home to the Amazon jungle, in a seamless, fast paced, rollercoaster ride of a performance.

On stage are just a few props – table and office chair, bottles of water, a box of discarded black video tape, a bamboo stick, and various microphones producing special aural effects.

As if being part of an elaborate radio documentary, we listen intently to the sound of a seaplane flying low over the Javari River; we follow in Loren’s footsteps trekking through the lush undergrowth, sense the steamy heat, hear the buzzing of mosquitos, as we venture further into the jungle in pursuit of the nomadic Cat People, the legendary Mayoruna tribe with their tattoos and painted faces. Soon, lost in the rain forest, in a shimmering, misty light, we can virtually feel the splashing torrents of a monsoon shower drenching our skin.

Simon McBurney is like a magician with a box of tricks and technical wizardry, charging around the stage with effervescent energy, to create a vividly evocative soundscape with its myriad of voices and music revolving in our mind.

Just one man, a microphone and a mesmerising traveller’s tale, told with childlike imagination, humour and absorbing passion.

Show Times
7-10, 16-19, 21,22 August @ 7.30pm
14, 15, 20,23 August @ 2.30pm
Ticket price £ 32