From supper clubs to cinema screenings, London’s certainly not short of immersive experiences and dotdotdot have added one to the list with Somnai. It’s centred around sleep, dreams and the unconscious mind so basically it explores the idea of what’s real and what isn’t. Set over two floors of a 20,000 sq ft former printing press in Clerkenwell, you start Somnai with an appointment at a ‘sleep clinc’, where you get your face scanned and get given a Fitbit, before you pop on a dressing gown and bed socks and head inside.
It’s a mix of live performance – you’re led through a series of rooms and experiences by an AI Dream Guide – and VR, which is well executed and layered up with some physical elements. There’s a lengthy sequence in the middle where you move through different environments and you do forget that you’re actually standing on solid ground. We won’t give any more spoilers because it’s more fun that way but we will say that there are some more sinister moments in the production (dreams aren’t always good are they?) and points where some of the group may get separated. This means that everyone has a slightly different experience and that makes it all the more interesting in our books.
You’ll want to stop by the bar at the end; not only does the look of it change thanks to projections on the set (and the cocktails are changed to match too) but this is where you can have a debrief, download the app to check your heart rate data from the Fitbit and have a good lol at your face scan.[easy-image-collage id=109354]
Somnai definitely has an interesting concept although there’s not a strong narrative running through the production – it’s more like being moved through a series of rooms that don’t always feel connected – but it’s different to any other immersive experience we’ve done before and we’re always up for things getting a bit trippy.
Running until mid-July 2018
2 Pear Tree St, London EC1V 3SB