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.

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'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.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

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


"'The Encounter' comes off more as a demonstration of technological capabilities than engaging storytelling...For a good twenty minutes or a half-hour, the technological display is very entertaining. The narrative, however, isn't, as McIntyre's inner monologues grow tiresome and the environment recreations seem redundant." 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

New York Magazine / Vulture

"This is thrilling in its way, but as you begin to adjust to the tech tricks you also begin to wonder how relevant and expressive they really are...It’s immersive, yes, but not so much theater: It’s more like watching a radio show in a studio, with special kudos to the Foley artist. Even McBurney’s exhausting efforts to bring the story to gestural life are undercut by the sound...'The Encounter' may be happening in your head but, ultimately, it’s someone else’s trip." 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

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 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 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

Lighting & Sound America

"McBurney gets inside one's head, but he never penetrates one's heart or mind...'The Encounter' becomes entangled in its fundamental contradictions, its method of storytelling strangely at odds with the ideas it hopes to convey...These circumstances are hardly ideal for creating drama, and the text proves even less helpful...Whatever else you say about 'The Encounter,' it is executed with supreme confidence and skill. Still, this is a voyage without a satisfying destination." 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

Front Row Center

"This is more sound effects than story, and as such only held my interest for so long...The story takes second place to the 'show.' McBurney is a combination of storyteller and magician/technician–emphasis on the latter. We marvel at his technical skills over and over again...In the end it seemed less important that the tale was told and more important that McBurney was at the center, doing the telling. He is griot, who loves the sound of his own voice, looking for a tribe. Not my cuppa tea." 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

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 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

AM New York

"'The Encounter' resembles an immersive, sensory take on the old-fashioned radio play, with multiple voices, heavy breathing and other sounds fully engulfing the listener. But after a while, the novelty wears off and you are left with unending bits of description and psychological contemplation. You can’t help but wonder whether it was really meant to be experienced live in a Broadway theater...Wouldn’t it make more sense to listen to the piece with your own headphones on your own time?" Full Review

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

Times Square Chronicles

"With the advent of television in the 1950s, radio drama lost its popularity. Why anyone would think that this form would now be entertaining, with the Internet and high tech everywhere, is beyond me...Simon McBurney is a wonderful actor with his vocals and technology, and if he were born and active in the '20s to the '30s, his one-man show would be spectacular...McBurney is everywhere, but that doesn’t stop your brain from wanting to snooze through it all." 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

New York Daily News

"Sonically, it’s mind-boggling. Dramatically, less so. The rambling tale gets trying as it switches from past and present and from jungle to McBurney’s daughter’s bedroom. It’s unlike anything else on Broadway, and it is a head trip. But sometimes 'The Encounter' goes in one ear and out the other." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Definitely a triumph of technology...It’s basically a radio play staged live in a Broadway house by one very talented vocally gifted performer...I could list the heady concepts discussed and theorized upon but the list would grow long and overwrought. Sadly, this is also an apt description of this play...Somewhere along the path the novelty began to wear off...There wasn’t enough of interest on the stage to keep me invested visually...The story grew convoluted and confusing." Full Review


"Whether you'll love 'The Encounter' depends on how much you value a show's vive la difference factor...The unique storytelling approach's grip on my senses wasn't quite firm enough to hold me for almost 2 hours. During the last twenty minutes or so, I caught myself sneaking glances at my watch...Even if it weren't about 20 minutes too long, you might find all those voices and philosophical observations about time, life and, death as often distancing as fully engaging." Full Review


"The dazzling artistry of 'The Encounter' is initially exhilarating but grows tedious after 30 minutes...It’s essentially a glorified radio show. Technically breathtaking and superbly performed, its length exceeds its narrative interest...Gradually the chronicle becomes murky as the audience sits in varying degrees of darkness listening to McBurney through their headsets. Rambling on without a clear sense of plot, his tale devolves into an endurance test." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"This production certainly qualifies as the most unusual offering currently on Broadway...The novelty wore off for me rather quickly...The story is frequently interrupted by the voices of expert commentators and, annoyingly, McBurney’s 5-year-old daughter. There are mystical and philosophical overtones and a rather ham-fisted critique of modern materialism. Although it held my interest better than anticipated, I did not find it compelling theater." 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


"No matter how serenely I tried to let the sounds in my headphones and the events onstage take me on a visceral inner journey, I couldn’t get beyond the sense I was hearing a radio play with plenty of sound effects and incidental visuals. It is, I hasten to say, a compelling radio play...Whatever else happens on Broadway this season, it is unlikely to be anything like these nonstop two hours. I’m sad that it felt to me like an engrossing, high-end novelty act." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you're seeking a unique experience.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy one-man shows and heavy narrative.

Absorbing, Clever, Dizzying, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want an immersive piece of one man theater. McBurney puts everything on the stage and I was impressed with his stamina and endurance

Don't see it if you want a simple, classic form of theater, dont like wearing headphones for the entirety of the show

Thought-provoking, Masterful, Unique

See it if You're open to wearing headphones and having an immersive aural experience, you like stories told in unique ways.

Don't see it if You don't want to wear headphones or go along for the ride, you don't like 1 man shows or can't sit for 2 hours without an intermission

Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining, 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

Clever, Dizzying, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want a one man show using clever technology to tell about real history of colonial exploitation and indigenous survival

Don't see it if you don't want a dizzying disorienting story about real persecution of indigenous South American tribes

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You like unconventional theater experiences. Immersive one-man show, using tech aspects of theater to bring you on his journey.

Don't see it if You prefer standard plays, don't want to wear headphones, don't want to use your imagination. Plain set. Uses sound effects to create show.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see a show unlike anything else on Broadway - technically dazzling and absorbing performances by a single man.

Don't see it if you're expecting a classic one-man show without modern flair and traditional plot.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Edgy, Great writing

See it if You like edgier, more experimental storytelling and technology. Super inventive staging, writing, and performing!

Don't see it if You want to sit back and relax. You've got to stay on your toes for this production in order to follow the story.

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you want to experience theater in a whole new way. I love a great story and a story told greatly!

Don't see it if you're not into the storytelling or if you find headphones uncomfortable.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You got it for free.

Don't see it if you won't, it closed.

Clever, Enchanting, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if you enjoy one person shows that use technology as an tool, not a crutch to tell an engaging and engrossing story.

Don't see it if you don't like to think about environmental consequences of actions or the possibilities of real-life magic...

Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Quirky, Great staging

See it if you're intrigued by an unusual theater piece about perception and sound. It's quite a one-man saga, and an impressive technical feat.

Don't see it if mystical explorations of meaning and philosophy annoy you. also, some of the narrator's experiences are quite harrowing.

Ambitious, Great acting, Disappointing

See it if you enjoy storytelling at its finest,excellent performance & non-traditional & excellent use of sound.

Don't see it if you do not care for one man shows or if wearing a headset the entire show would bother you.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if you love to think, are a protector or lover of Nature, or willing to listen to Simon McBurney surprise, instruct, and delight for two hours.

Don't see it if you dislike experimental theatre. This story-telling/foley artist is a one-man-show experience, informative about the Brazilian rainforest.

Also I had the great fortune to attend the last performance. In truth, I di... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You are open to a show where sound takes center stage; you like one-man shows

Don't see it if You will be offended by an encounter between a Westerner and indigenous people; you are not open to a theatrical experience of sound

Also Saw it with Richard Katz and he was amazing

Absorbing, Epic, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You are interested in other cultures and/or simply want to see an incredible show.

Don't see it if You have no interest in other cultures and don't like one-man shows.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Intense, Masterful

See it if you want to get as far out of the box as you can on a Broadway stage, and love technical design and innovative performance.

Don't see it if you have a Pavlovian response to take a snooze when you put headphones on.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Intelligent, Intense, Quirky

See it if you're game for imaginative auditory experience delivered with passionate intensity by impressively talented McBurney; are alert & focused!

Don't see it if you run late (miss headphone/tech check), want elaborate sets, are easily distracted, not open to unusual storytelling or topic (tribesmen).

Also At times, your mind may wonder (mine did), lulled by hypnotic effect o... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Disappointing, Mcbummer

See it if Money no object. Get it heavily discounted. Broadway completist must see only. Waste of time and money. Needed a 50% smaller venue.

Don't see it if Thin gimmick. Orchestra show. Major attn loss in mezz. Narrow seats, leaning patrons, Apple watch checkers. Child voice intrusive, annoying.

Ambitious, Clever, Indulgent

See it if You want a multi-sensory theatrical experience and want to be lectured to about a rainforest trip. Very cool sound design.

Don't see it if You are expecting human/prop-made noises the entire show. It's only for bits. Definitely long, and not for people who don't like headphones.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Totally unique

See it if you appreciate a unique theater experience coupled with a meaningful story.

Don't see it if you prefer a quiet play

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Confusing, Slow

See it if You enjoy one-man show, you like to see plays in radical forms

Don't see it if You want something entertaining, you like plot-drived plays

Boring, Slow, Different, Problematic

See it if you're interested in a unique theatrical experience involving headphones and the use of sound in a new way.

Don't see it if you don't like one-man shows; you aren't interested in the experience of a white man in the Amazon.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Indulgent, Slow, Experimental

See it if you're ready for a true, seamless blend of technology & storytelling. It's an anthropological narrative spliced w/ commentary on its making.

Don't see it if you want a straightforward Broadway experience with minimal electronics (you wear headphones) and a larger cast (it's a one-man show).

Absorbing, Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Great writing

See it if you're an audio geek or a lover of the ancient art of storytelling - this mixes both loves into a satisfying mesmerizing experience

Don't see it if you want a traditional theatrical experience - this is one man using fantastic audio tech to transform the ancient art of storytelling

To see or not to see (0)

Cast & Creatives (14)