One Day, Maybe – Review – King William House, Hull
By Roger Crow, September 2017
I know little about the latest attraction at the City of Culture. Just that it has something to do with touring an office block. So when my wife and I turn up at the reception of King William House in Hull, we are eventually allowed in, drop coats off in the cloakroom and enter a lift. What happens after that is an extraordinary mix of performance art, hi-tech jiggery pokery, an epic display, live theatre, models, a mix of the old and new and general strangeness on a massive scale.
If I’m being vague, that’s deliberate. I don’t want to reveal too much about this experience which takes around two hours and once seen is never forgotten. If I’m honest I’m not sure what to make of it. I know that it’s not entirely successful, but given the size of it, I’m not too surprised.
For whatever reason, a crucial technical element involving inputting my data on a mini tablet didn’t register at a final stage, probably because it got confused with my partner’s name. Later in the show a segment involving food and drink left me without much of either. Can’t say I was too put out, though it would have been nice to have a place at a table. I just wish the whole thing had been a little tighter.
There are sections involving VR helmets which drag on too long, and good luck to anyone at the back of the queue, aka me, who got separated from my partner and wound up spending long in sections with strangers.
Not that you need to be with a party. As a solo experience it probably works just as well as if you’re with a group. The whole thing is so bold and audacious, I have to applaud the brains behind the operation. But sections just don’t work, and a language barrier means you feel a bit left out of the loop.
I’d also advise that if you’re around six foot, to watch your head in places as you might suddenly find yourself feeling like John Cusack’s character in Being John Malkovich. Again, apologies for the vagueness, but it’s one of those experiences that you need to try for yourself.
I will say it offers a tantalising glimpse of possible consumerism in the future. I just wish that my first attempt to use a VR helmet wasn’t cut short by part of the performance, and by the end of the show when VR helmets featured again, I got bored waiting for a turn, so I called it a day.
The experience feels like a theme park attraction, with a fair bit of walking, problem solving, and will no doubt generate much head scratching. Not all of it makes sense, and I wondered if I should have been moved rather than just baffled.
I do know that it should have ended with a bang, but realising that a first key segment had left me not even a digital presence in a room full of statistics featuring everyone else in the tour was frustrating.
Part of me is glad I don’t exist as assorted stats in a company’s data banks, and the other part feels like someone pulled the plug out of the back of my video game just as I was reaching a high score.
Good art should be thought provoking, surprising, original and inspiring. It can also be maddeningly frustrating, like a an itch you can’t scratch.
Again, I applaud the brains behind the operation. This is a unique experience that is another feather in the cap of the City of Culture. Was it worth the price of admission? Possibly – and I am very glad I spent a couple of hours on a rain-lashed Sunday night experiencing something extraordinary.
As an hour-long experience, with less (redundant) sections, this would be far better, but maybe that’s just me missing the point. If I did it again, it might make more sense. Maybe the final stage should feature an ironic gift shop. A key fob with a corporate logo perhaps, or a book explaining what I’d just experienced.
I do know it’ll baffle many, inspire others and will be talked about for some time to come. To the folks behind the scenes, I’ll just say daedanhi gamsahamnida. And if that doesn’t make much sense, it might do a few minutes into your own tour.