Fever Dream Theatre’s Basecamp excels in its representation of women as strong, hungry for success and competitive – but struggles to sustain momentum after the audience accustom to its immersive and seperative concept.
If you’re looking for something different (and it’s not pouring with rain), Fever Dream Theatre’s Basecamp may be perfect for you. The award-winning company’s outdoor piece focuses on two young female climbers, who’ve trained and worked together for most of their lives. But it’s not a story about friendship: it’s about ambition, competition and how that can affect the way you perceive and describe facts and people. The two performers, who carry backpacks and wear climbing gear, welcome the audience into a little garden outside C South venue – where they’ve set up a tent each. We’re divided into two groups and, without any say in the decision, join one of the climbers and listen to their side of the story.
Competition and lack of funding are the things that brought the two together; being identified by the media as a winning combination of youth and talent, the two have been turned into ‘frenemies’ and forced to work together to secure publicity and sponsors. But the rivalry starts to get a little too tight and a little too dangerous – to the point where they admit having risked their lives to beat one another.
The interesting thing about Basecamp is that it is a completely biased experience, as you’re only ever given one version of the ‘facts’. It is an interesting perspective that could offer a further comment on the power of the media and how easy it is to change the narrative of a story, especially since this is an issue directly addressed in the show. It’s also nice to see women represented as strong, determined, hungry for success and, as we find out throughout the show, absolutely flawed (to their own admission too).
Unfortunately, as it is mainly speech-based and not much happens in terms of action, it is very hard to keep the initial excitement for an immersive experience going. The audience gets to sit down in a tent and listen to someone speaking for an hour, with only a couple of interruptions and a cup of tea. Even the story itself, which gets a bit more eventful towards the end as a big revelation is made, does not really succeed in creating enough tension or causing a shock. The ending feels a bit unsure as well. The two climbers just leave the site to embark in their latest adventure and a shy, polite applause erupts from the audience – left alone to wonder if there is more to happen.
Ultimately, I think Basecamp is a good experiment that, if fine-tuned, could be a really interesting piece. Catch it and experience your own side of the story.