Thirst Trap review: Bathtime theatre show bizarrely mixes wellness and the apocalypse

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Well, I certainly didn’t have a wellness experience crossed with an apocalyptic sci-fi monologue enjoyed – if that’s the word – in my own bath on my 2021 bingo card. But here we are. Thirst Trap is a “sound and instruction-led theatre experience” for the lone home bather. Produced by Fuel, and 30 minutes long, it lists a writer/creator, dramaturg, designer, sound designer and climate justice consultant in its credits. Did it really take that many people to come up with something so lame?

The show comes in a box delivered to your door, an event considerably less thrilling now than it was a year ago. Inside is a bath bomb, a candle, a tape measure and temperature gauge to stick on the side of the tub, enabling you to fill it to a precise depth and temperature, and a dried floral infusion. So far, so Goop.

A QR code unlocks the honeyed tones of Sharon D. Clarke, who asks you to breathe in, breathe out, and assess your naked body. Again, for those of us who’ve piled on the Covid kilos, that’s not as much fun as it used to be, either.

Once immersed, the contemplation continues, Clarke uttering Paltrow-ish platitudes (“the ‘you’ below the water is a stranger… evolution is possible”) over a soothing four-note piano phrase. Then suddenly “it’s 2079 and a few things have changed!” The earth is a wasteland scorched by sun and strafed by monsoons. Water is rationed, the NHS has been sold and the main mode of transport, hoverboards, are sarcastically nicknamed Boris Boards after “the man who brought the country to its knees”.

After instructing us to lower the bath level enough to expose flesh, our storyteller links this climate disaster back to the industrial revolution and the slave trade, a statement there’s no space to unpack in such a short show. Finally you’re asked to cradle, then release, the blue and green “orb” (the bath bomb) and the narrative returns to mindless mindfulness as the music swells with strings.

I’ve always thought I’d happily listen to Sharon D. Clarke read the terms and conditions for a mobile phone contract, but sitting in a cooling bath enduring a mix of furious undergraduate politics and banality challenged even my devotion to her. Fuel are known for radical, thought-provoking work, but this is neither. Indeed, the much-delayed Thirst Trap was scooped five weeks ago by another nutso-sounding bath-based show, Silvia Mercuriala’s Swimming Home. Still, the music is pleasant. And it’s nice to have a soak.

To 12 March (sold out), fueltheatre.com

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