What does it mean to “unsee” another person, an incident…an entire city? Adapted from author China Miéville’s multi-award-winning novel, The City and The City is a highly participatory theatrical experience; equal parts dystopic science fiction, film noir, and murder mystery. Using emergent audio technology, the audience receives clues for actions, text and characterization to bring the story to life in real-time.
The City and The City unfurls across Ul Qoma and Besźel, two “split” cities that occupy the same geographical space but operate as distinct social, cultural, and political entities. Conditioned from birth, the citizens in these overlapping cities must unsee one another, and transgressors are disappeared by an invisible police force known only as Breach. When a young woman is murdered, Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Besźel Extreme Crime Squad is plunged into a perilous investigation that risks kindling long-simmering tensions between the two cities, and provoking the panoptic agents that oversee their now corroding boundaries.
The City and The City demands a deep contemplation of the undergirding of communal reality. How do communities construct myths of belonging and exclusion? How do disparate cultures establish independence/interdependence? Who and what do we choose to see and unsee in our day-to-day lives, and how does that affect the conception of our world?
The City and The City is an immersive, interactive theatrical experience. Like a matryoshka doll, the mystery hides another mystery of who you really are, and the city in which you live.