Punchdrunk Returns to London with The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, Co-Produced with the National Theatre

By Mark Shenton
21 Mar 2013

Immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, whose Sleep No More is still running in New York through June 1, will return to London with their biggest show yet, The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable. Co-produced with the National Theatre, it will begin performances June 20 in a vast disused building in central London.



Inspired by Büchner's fractured masterpiece Woyzeck and set in a seedy Hollywood underworld, it is Punchdrunk's first large-scale theatre production in London since The Masque of the Red Death, seen at BAC in 2007, that was based on Edgar Allan Poe.

According to press materials, the new show is set at a film studio called Temple Pictures, where the Hollywood studio system meets a forgotten hinterland filled with dreamers who exist at the fringes of the movie industry. Here, celluloid fantasy clings to desperate realism and certainty dissolves into a hallucinatory world.  This theatrical journey follows its protagonists along the precipice between illusion and reality. 

In a press statement, Felix Barrett, artistic director of Punchdrunk, commented, "We've wanted to do Woyzeck in London for many years and have finally found a building that lives up to the extraordinary atmosphere of Büchner's masterpiece.  We’re thrilled to be working with the National Theatre again whose support has been invaluable."

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, added, "Punchdrunk have provided some of my most exciting dramatic experiences over the past decade.  We are delighted to be working with them again in London after a six-year gap while they wowed New York; I can’t wait to see their new theatrical adventure."

Punchdrunk was formed in 2000. Previous productions include Faust, The Masque of the Red Death, Tunnel 228, It Felt Like a Kiss, Sleep No More, The Duchess of Malfi and The Crash of the Elysium.

The Dorwned Man: A Hollywood Fable is directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, designed by Barrett, Livi Vaughan and Beatrice Minns, and choreographed by Doyle. Lighting design is by Mike Gunning and sound by Stephen Dobbie.

The performance lasts up to three hours. There are six arrival times in ten-minute intervals for the performances, which run Tuesdays-Sundays, with two cycles on Fridays and Saturdays.

Public booking opens March 22. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.