New York | 1h 50m | Already closed

The Encounter

From 62 critic and 634 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the show

Journey deep into the Amazon rainforest in Complicite theater company's solo storytelling performance featuring innovative aural technology. Conceived, directed, and performed by Tony nominee Simon McBurney. More…

'The Encounter' comes to Broadway this fall after acclaimed runs in London, Edinburgh, and beyond. McBurney draws from 'Amazon Beaming,' a book by Petru Popescu about 'National Geographic' writer and photographer Loren McIntyre’s experience with tribes along the Amazon River. Inspired by these real events, 'The Encounter' follows the photographer as he finds himself lost in a remote area of Brazil. All audience members wear headphones during this unique and intimate theatrical experience.

1h 50m | Already closed | The John Golden Theatre (Midtown W)

Talkin' Broadway

"Perhaps the most arresting facet of this towering accomplishment is that it all feels as though it's been created just for you. Delivered as it is through a headset you're provided upon taking your seat, the soundscape is intensely intimate, which only makes the shivers cut deeper...This is theatre so pure, it doesn't need sets. But in eschewing them, 'The Encounter' gets them as no other show ever has—and oh so much more, too." Full Review

The New York Times

"No production on Broadway has ever thrown the doors of perception open as widely as 'The Encounter,' Simon McBurney’s astonishing one-man show...McBurney sustains the momentum of his story as tensely and enjoyably as if it were a Rudyard Kipling yarn...It may be he who’s running and dancing and leaping and sweating. But by the end of this nonpareil show’s two intermissionless hours, you are as lightheaded, exhausted, baffled and invigorated as if it had been you." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Closing one’s eyes in the theater can be a sign of boredom. But shutting the peepers at McBurney’s utterly transfixing mind-tickler 'The Encounter' is a valid expression of rapture...McBurney is a wryly engaging performer who can command an audience by sheer force...In this primal, lysergic movie for the brain, McBurney covers a dazzling array of topics...Part mystic thriller, part tricksy aural illusion, 'The Encounter' offers a meeting of ear, mind and soul you will never forget." Full Review


"It's one of the most extraordinary shows I've ever seen...The adventure moves swiftly and it's funny, disturbing, surprising. But what will really capture you is the way the story is told, through radio play-like audio that is completely immersive...As we travel with McBurney, fear for him, he becomes more open to the mysteries of the world. And so do we." Full Review

Epoch Times

"The planes of fantasy, reality, and make-believe are beautifully brought together in the absolutely brilliant production...Conceived, directed, and performed by Simon McBurney, the show expertly combines humor, drama, and sound effects wizardry...McBurney’s performance is nothing short of excellent. The actor changes accents, postures, and movements as he literally throws himself into the world that he and his team create. The other star of the performance is the sound design." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"At first glance 'The Encounter' feels like a radio play accompanied by thick layers of sound effects, some live and others pre-recorded. Then the set, an anonymous-looking radio studio, comes to hallucinatory life, and suddenly you find yourself swept up in Mr. McBurney’s high-tech dramatization of McIntyre’s bizarre yet somehow believable tale. The result is a piece of storytelling that is as haunting and enthralling as a half-remembered dream." Full Review

Theater Life

"This could have been a simple action-adventure tale with McIntyre as a Harrison Ford-type hero. But McBurney, who also directed the show, adds layers of meaning and dimension...He forces us to question our reality as he breaks down the familiar conventions of theater...The creator-performer daringly submerges himself into an alternate universe of sound and sensation, taking venturesome theatergoers on a wild ride." Full Review


"While 'The Encounter' could easily settle as a radio-play, McBurney's up to something far more ambitious...The nearly two-hour intermissionless performance is a tour-de-force as McBurney entertains, enlightens and instructs with mesmerizing talent...At times it may feel like sensory overload. I zoned out at points but much like the most vivid dream, this 'Encounter' is impossible to shake." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"McBurney is able to achieve an immersive theatrical experience by having a deep understanding of the essence of human perceptions, and making full use of everything that’s readily available. McBurney, with the help of sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, has turned the performance into a synesthesia-inducing, orgasmic auditory experience, and the rigidly structured Broadway theatre into an intimate, elastic organism that breathes through various dimensions." Full Review

The Washington Post

"This virtuosic theater maker’s transporting bells and whistles indeed make 'The Encounter' the next best thing to being there...Those deriving little stimulation from learning the customs of a people who live in diametric opposition to us urbane types, may find themselves drifting off during the intermission-less show. It didn’t happen to me...'The Encounter' is a demonstration of the power of technology to immerse us ever more thrillingly in narrative art." Full Review

Village Voice

"Even in public, it feels like we're in a time and space all our own...With sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, McBurney transforms our own relationship to reality, space, and perception through the constantly shifting sounds in our headphones...McBurney's performance is captivating: He's exactly the kind of storyteller you'd happily listen to even in the absence of these technological interventions." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"At one point, McBurney asks you to close your eyes, thus allowing a sound picture to form in your head of something not actually happening. There will be temptations to close your eyes again, especially when the narrative begins to wear thin...You may find yourself drifting off, overwhelmed by the convincing aural landscape into losing the thread of the storytelling. This tendency for the drama’s contents to be subsumed by its form is 'The Encounter’s' most significant weakness." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"McBurney is a passionate storyteller, both wily and wild; he needs no technological marvels to make his case. Yet the headphones emphasize the personal relationship he establishes with each auditor and it challenges us to reflect on how and why we surrender to his tale...Headphones are isolating, however, and they make the experience somewhat less communal...But when the sound is flooding and McBurney is chanting, 'The Encounter' is mood-altering and mind-expanding enough." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Part of the thrill of 'The Encounter' is the astounding binaural technology...The result is practically like watching a 3-D movie...Yet most of what makes 'The Encounter' such an extraordinary theatrical outing is in the beautifully crafted telling of the tale by McBurney...In every moment, he brings enormous passion and conviction to the proceedings...The piece occasionally feels longer than it should...Still, audiences with an open mind will undoubtedly be changed for the better." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"We see that the theatricality—all sound, all the time—is not a device grafted onto the piece; it specifically fits the play’s examination of reality...It seems clear that people who are interested in this sort of adventurous theatrical spectacle will love 'The Encounter'...Other viewers might understandably opine that the emperor has no clothes; he (it) certainly has no scenery....It is the sound designers who are responsible for the binaural wizardry of the piece; think of 3-D for the ears." Full Review

The Wrap

"McBurney’s conversations with his daughter beautifully illustrate the fractured, if not fractious, quality of time and place. 'The Encounter' also easily trumps the book’s ability to convey the concept of beaming...Also, McBurney, a most engagingly relaxed performer, delivers big when he turns himself into wild beasts while experiencing oneness with the rain forest. It’s quite a show, both visually and aurally." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Given how thoroughly the audience is let in both on the technology and the artifice, it's remarkable how quickly and completely the piece becomes an immersive narrative...'The Encounter' is an extraordinarily visceral, often hypnotic piece of storytelling. It must be added, however, that any solo show running close to two intermissionless hours asks a lot of its audience, and this one is more impactful in the moment than in terms of lingering resonance." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"This is a unique theatrical experience. It might be compared to a live radio broadcast aided and abetted by contemporary audio were McBurney’s role not so emphatically physical. Close your eyes occasionally. Visual imagination provides. The story is fascinating, the script visceral and intimate, if a tad long. Acting is a tour de force...'The Encounter' is well served by sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Makin. This is unquestionably the best and most intricate you’ll hear to date." Full Review


"His performance is a verbal and physical tour de force...This late, rather long segment of the play dips into a New Age-y kind of mysticism that might not be to everyone's aesthetic taste. But taken in its entirety, 'The Encounter' is a bracingly original theater experience, and McBurney confirms his place as one of the most imaginative figures in the English-speaking theater." Full Review

Out Magazine

"The intermissionless hour-and-50-minutes, with themes about natives and the power of nature, comes off like a long sit (I also thought the exchanges between McBurney and the voice of his daughter were a tad too cute), but generally, this is a hypnotic work that breathes new life into the one-man show genre. Loud kudos-in-the-headphones to McBurney and cohorts, who include Michael Levine (design), Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin (sound)." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"Relying on sounds and downplaying the visual struck me as an odd way to tell the story of a professional photographer...The final phase of Loren McIntyre’s journey is a payoff for patience, when attention is drawn to the stage, as the performer takes off his shirt to reenact a shamanistic ritual, and the lighting, set and projection designers go to town, Simon McBurney’s well-honed theatricality–visual at last–matching the mystical, mesmerizing real-life fever dream he has been voicing." Full Review


"A dazzlingly disorienting head-trip...McBurney's performance is a marvel of athleticism as he bounds around the stage from microphone to microphone. But it's way too easy, sitting in the dark being lulled by sound machines, to drift off for extended periods. The show feels much too long and, at points, way too heady...While 'The Encounter' ticks nearly all of the boxes of 'snob hit,' it ends up a breath of fresh air for audience members who believe in theater's ability to push boundaries." Full Review


"It's a mindblower...All of this is conveyed ingeniously by McBurney in an attic set as he re-creates for us the story through the use of much electronic gear that alters his voice for different characters...The show is a wonder, but I couldn’t help but feel it also was a bit of a con that forced us to pay more attention to the technical gimcrackery than to the extraordinary tale unfolding. Would imaginative staging with an actual cast, have had as much impact? I’d like to think so." Full Review

City Cabaret

"McBurney draws us in with him, sometimes deafened with layers of sounds. The experience is fascinating and at times, exciting...It is also fatiguing and demanding, 110 minutes without an intermission. McBurney is an intriguing performer, drawing us into his exhausting world with enthusiasm...'The Encounter' is a unique sensory theatrical experience, technology with immersive sonic effects that lend a feeling of isolation in a crowded theater." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"An aural rollercoaster. In its aftermath, the show leaves you with intellectual whiplash...The layers of ideas that underpin the show make this an unexpected and probing Broadway offering...Most of all, we become acutely aware of the act of storytelling in 'The Encounter'–the mechanics, the microphones, the music, and the objects of theatrical manipulation. Yet, we convert these articles of stage fiction seamlessly into this aural adventure, all the while knowing it’s a trick." Full Review

Clever, Edgy, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if fantasic. you like to close yourself from reality and get through life by isolated sound

Don't see it if no reason not to

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Masterful

See it if you're open to technological innovation along with great acting, riveting storytelling and a profound message

Don't see it if you're not interested in solo shows

Exquisite, Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You want to see an extremely unique storytelling experience. You want a fully immersive show with great acting.

Don't see it if You only like simple shows and do not have an open mind.

Profound, Must see, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if You are spiritual and aware that life is a series of journies.

Don't see it if You are not open to other realities.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Edgy, Masterful, Must see

See it if you want a theater experience that grabs your senses and holds you captive. Part performance art and part masterful story telling.

Don't see it if you only think of theater as the usual musical or drama. It is neither!

Ambitious, Dizzying, Profound

See it if you are ready to have your mind blown by smart, incredibly well-crafted theatre and a mind-bending storyline.

Don't see it if you prefer conventional plays.

Absorbing, Clever, Epic, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see something completely different, like nothing you have ever seen on Broadway before.

Don't see it if If you don't like one man shows or shows that make you think.

Masterful, Absorbing, Riveting, Must see

See it if you want to be mesmerized & experience technology in its utmost.

Don't see it if Youdo not like avant garde theater

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You want a unique theatrical experience. It is aurally stimulating, visually poetic, and incredibly thought provoking

Don't see it if You are expecting traditional western theatre. This is an experience and completely non-traditional.

Absorbing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Must see, Profound

See it if You want to be a real participant in an extraordinary production filled with irony, sound, masterful writing & acting. Brilliant.

Don't see it if You you are uncomfortable wearing headphones. Don't like to use your imagination. You require a linear plot.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Quirky

See it if You are interested in theater that is different from the usual experience.

Don't see it if You cannot suspend your notions of what theater should be.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Entertaining, Masterful, Must see

See it if you want a riveting and highly individualized theatrical experience. This is one of the most incredible theatrical feats I have ever seen.

Don't see it if You have a narrow minded perspective of what you believe theatre "should be".

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Exquisite

See it if You like to be intellectually engaged and appreciate brilliance.

Don't see it if You only like traditional plays.

Also This show it literally stunning! Simon McBurney has created a magnific... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if You want to be absorbed into a world sooooooo not like anything you know. Imaginative, creative, brilliant, controversial, expertly done.

Don't see it if are looking for a traditional theatre experience.

Absorbing, Masterful, Transporting, Riveting, Great acting

See it if you'll try something a little different, enjoy tour de force performances, want full immersion in a story. I was truly transported.

Don't see it if you dont want to wear headphones or you are looking for a standard play. but you'll be missing one of the most unique shows ever ;)

Absorbing, Riveting, Profound, Intelligent

See it if You want to see a brilliant and absorbing one man show.

Don't see it if You aren't up for something a bit different. This is not a traditional/old-fashioned play.

Clever, Great acting, Must see, Great staging, Entertaining

See it if You like to experience new multimedia show

Don't see it if If you like classical theater

Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious

See it if You like to engage your imagination to blur perception and reality. It's a high tech radio play on steroids, and an acting tour de force.

Don't see it if You need physical reality (or the illusion thereof) to hold your interest, or want a show with a traditional dramatic structure.

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if You love great acting. A one man show like no other.Sound effects through provided earphones puts you in the story. A great experience.

Don't see it if You can't suspend disbelief or if you cannot deal with a new experience.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Innovative,transporting

See it if You like one man shows, like the synthesis of technology with drama, like intellectual and emotional challenges

Don't see it if You want a conventional plot and production

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Intelligent, Must see

See it if You are not wedded to same old, same old. This was unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Don't see it if ...Honestly I think everyone should see it.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Sensational !

See it if you love truly artistic story telling with sensory experiences and can Allow yourself to be transported.

Don't see it if ... innovative experiences don't thrill you . Hate wearing headphones .

Ambitious, Absorbing, Riveting, Innovative, Thought-provoking

See it if you like avant-garde shows, are thrilled by spectacular sound design, enjoy podcasts, and love a gripping yarn spectacularly told.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy solo performances, require vasts amount of spectacle, or feel uncomfortable having to wear headphones for 90 min.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You want to see the best solo show in a long time, one that uses a high-tech sound design to help create a primal story and experience.

Don't see it if You don't mind missing Simon McBurney's flawless voices, characters and overall riveting performance.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Riveting

See it if It's enthralling and a completely new way of telling a story on stage

Don't see it if I think it is more of a story-telling experience than a play, which might turn some people off.

Cast & Creatives (14)