Review: En Route "Drift dreamily through the familiar"
One Step at a Time Like This and Richard Jordan Producations, Australia
Until March 24
Reviewed by Frances Morton
Dear Don Brash, it was me that you looked at with bamboozlement when I was standing on Albert St at lunchtime holding a fluorescent flag aloft. I don’t blame you. I was also bamboozled, but pleasantly so – and remained in that state for the duration of this immersive experience brought to town by a bunch of mysterious arty Australians. En Route is a “show” where the audience member is the player, the watched and the watching.
Not long after the Brash sighting, a woman approached, collected the flag and handed me a MP3 player with headphones, checked my phone number and directed me down an alleyway. From there I’m reluctant to say what actually happened. No, it wasn’t traumatic – it would just ruin things for others. The charm of En Route is surrendering to the unknown. En Route is a solo experience. It takes about 1.5 hours. It leads you through lanes, streets, malls, foyers, stairways and doorways of the central city depending on texts from invisible observers, hidden notes, and audio messages for directions. All this happens against an appropriately curated soundtrack of local musicians playing in your headphones.
Walking downtown listening to music and constantly checking your phone. What’s new, huh? Firstly, En Route led me places I never knew were there. And walking around knowing I had no destination, unlike the Queen St bustlers pushing past me, put the stresses of the world into suspension. For a sweet period of time, En Route lets you revel in being detached.
The tour is a touch over length, and the syrupy voice intermittedly cooing in your ear about grand abstract ideas gets a little trying but En Route is a great way of opening your eyes to what passes us by without consideration every day. En Route is not educational like most walking city tours. It’s a chance to drift dreamily through the familiar. It’s greatest offering is the time to reflect. And how often do we get to do that? Wear comfortable walking shoes, bring a charged phone and leave the self-consciousness at home.