The Encounter
ASB Theatre, Auckland, NZ
March 16, 2017

Rating: 5/5 stars
Reviewed by ALEX SAIFITI

Do you ever experience that feeling of disappointment when you go to see a movie which has been given rave reviews, only to find that it does not live up to your expectations?

After reading great reviews from around the world about The Encounter, I was feeling a sense of excitement and anticipation. Initially, I was anticipating it would not live up to its hype.

I could not, however, have been more wrong! If anything, reviews like this one fall short of exploring The Encounter and all its glory.

What is The Encounter about? 

Lost in the thick jungles of the Amazon, National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre discovers a remote tribe that takes him on an experience which changes his life forever.

Actor Richard Katz plays narrator as well as McIntyre and numerous other characters throughout, using loop pedals and other effects to play multiple characters at the same time. 

The real magic of The Encounter takes place when the audience is asked to put on their headphones and listen. It is hard to foresee the use and creativity of what little materials Katz has on stage to work with; a packet of chips used to portray the crackling of fire, and videotape film used to depict steps through the forest bed.

It is also hard to put into words how The Encounter makes you feel. It feels as though you are right there in the thick of it, standing with McIntyre in the Amazon, and the sound of a monkey or the plane overhead seems real.

From the raindrops to the panting of breath which warms your ears, the magic of the show is its 360-degree binaural technology that allows you to hear alternative sounds through each ear, as well get the feeling that someone is right behind, beside or in front of you. You might be listening to the sound of a man in one ear and a girl’s voice in another.

The Encounter is all-encompassing. The experience is one of total immersion covering themes ranging from modern world materialism and deforestation to the importance of human interaction and identity. These powerful themes are often brought back to reality with the narrator’s young daughter, who offers some relief during tense times which can be thrilling, loud and all-encompassing.

Why you need to see it

Some may argue with no interval that the two-hour show can be long-winded, but any student who has had to put up with two hours of lectures will not feel the same way. An experience like this is worth sitting still for.

The Encounter has come from sold out shows in Sydney, crowd-pleasing performances in New York and London, but on its first night in Auckland, it was far from sold out. I hope the word spreads and more people get the chance to see it. 

Why? Because The Encounter is unlike anything I have ever experienced before and unlike anything I will experience again. I am not only left wanting to read the book the narrator bases the story on (Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu), but I am also left wanting to travel to the Amazon and experience it all for myself.

The Encounter may just be the highlight of this year’s Auckland Arts Festival. An out of this world experience, which leaves you questioning the important things in life. 5/5 stars from me!

 

The Encounter at ASB Theatre is part of this year’s Auckland Arts Festival. Head to this page to grab your tickets – before it’s too late!

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