They always say it’s the third movie in a series where the entire series makes sense. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Scream, Lord of the Rings, and so on! Everything always makes sense after the third one. It’s when you learn new things and are able to connect all of the dots to the story.
The story with The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable is less about that of Woyzeck, but more of Temple Studios. Who runs it? Does it run it’s self? Who is benevolent? Is anyone even really nice?
With my third go at the Punchdrunk masterpiece, I was able to get close to answering these types of questions. So if you don’t mind spoilers, continue on and read about my journey!
LAST STOP BEFORE SPOILERS!!!
I got there early enough to make sure that I was on the first elevator. I got off and set off for sites I had not previously seen. This took me towards Romola Martin. I found her as she started working in Temple Studios and followed her on her journey to deliver a package to Mr. Stanford. I believe that Romola is one of the emotional cruxes of the show. Ya know how they say theatre would be better if there was one character that always knew that they were in a performance and would be then very confused? This is Romola. The only issue is is that she is under the influence of a substance and thus has progressive trouble remember things. Climaxing in her penultimate car crash, her sanity spirals out of control. Her one to one is one of the most emotional experiences you will ever take part in. Watching her come to terms with her fate will bring a tear to anyone. She is in total control of everyone around her and is just a pawn in the ultimate chess game.
Leaving the car and the late Romola, I set off to see what else I could learn. I followed the Fool for longer than I cared for. But I could watch every one of his dance routines over and over again. I hope to learn more about him in the future and maybe even experience his legendary one to one.
I eventually strolled across the PA in time to see her one to one. It’s there that you realize what is actually going on within the studios and who Is in charge. You can tell she is aligned with Mr. Stanford and that she does a fair amount of enticing people into his hold. After all she may even try to turn you during the one to one! If you are lucky enough that is.
I soon saw Mr. Stanford and learned much about what he does. Unlike the Dust Witch, who roams the top floor doing good deeds, he creeps around the basement ruining everything good. His near murderous initiation of Frankie, he slinks off to cause trouble in his wheelchair of doom. But when it boils down it all he is just a part of the movie. He pulls you to the ground and tells you about how he is going to blow the whole thing up, and yet you move along to find out that he is actually in it with the rest of them. While it may be his voice that bellows through the studios, it’s really just a tape recorder that he still has to follow and listen to.
I learned from Alice Estée about how none of anything really matters. People can become stars, yet they will always fade out and die away. Like the rest, the actors are in a cycle and will eventually dissolve to nothing. It makes you realize that everyone is really just stuck where they are at the whim of the studios. Her one to one teaches you the one thing you really need to understand about the show, no one is in control.
Hopefully I will be able to return a 4th time, given that I only have a month left. But if not I can leave the UK knowing that, while I have only seen about half the show, I really understand what it is all about. The building that guides so much of the shows format is really what has been in control the entire time. You will probably never see such a massive show like this, with deserts and forests and snowdrifts and production studios and entire towns. It’s certainly a memory that I will always hold close with myself and my time here in England.