Take a step into the collective consciousness

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 12 Aug 2015

Inevitably, someone will throw the word "pretentious" at IamI. Kill them first.

IamI is a play that asks a lot, but repays in kind. It asks that you suspend any unthinking cynicism about earnestly expressed philosophy (artistic or otherwise), or unashamed theatrical and intellectual ambition. Some will sneer. It will be their loss.

IamI imagines death as an enchantingly realised dreamscape, the "Eversphere", populated with lost souls who gather around the figure of Iam, without whom the universe cannot function. The various undead and unearthly beings meet, and debate whether Iam is needed, or if humanity can fill his role instead.

Humanity figures largely in IamI; no matter how epic or ethereal the stakes, the drama remains entirely human. Aila, a drowned young mother who befriends Iam, anchors the play with heartbreak where otherwise it might drift into the abstract. Iam—who is, if not God, then stuck with God's job—is as baffled and frightened as anyone. Two academic overseers of the cosmos are distracted by their a denied romance. And Deos is a raging Promethean rebel, intent on becoming a god for purely selfless reasons, but still gripped by grief and fallibility.

As a multimedia experience, the play is unfailingly gorgeous, reminiscent of Robert Wilson at his most stylised; a melding of colour, light, music, animation, costuming and physicality that truly feels otherworldly. While some supporting characters deserve more development (Atlas, in particular, is well-played but one-note), that is the worst one can say about IamI: it awakens curiosity, and leaves you wanting more.