P&O Cruises has added a somewhat darker element to its mantra ‘Like No Place On Earth’ in the shape of its new onboard production ‘Twice Upon A Time‘. The stageshow, which forms part of revamped entertainment offerings that also includes the recently launched Bianco and Gatsby themed parties, began playing to passengers late last year.

Cruise Advice was today among a group of industry partners invited by the line to enjoy a special performance of the show onboard Pacific Eden. Along with ‘Sideshow Alley,’ a musical story about characters from a travelling circus, the two new productions are currently available only on Eden and its fleet-mate Pacific Aria.

Twice Upon A Time‘ is the latest collaboration put together by live entertainment firm Grayboy, which itself is celebrating its 20th birthday in 2016. Featuring an entirely original musical score and choreography, it is an eye-opening play capable of drawing the audience into its world, one which is capable of being different things to different people.

With a title hinting at a fairytale of sorts, it is anything but. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where industrialisation has turned the planet into a polluted wasteland. A troupe of six interpretive dancers cloaked in black – representing survivors of the portrayed world – are guided through the end of their prior existence by a pair of sagest, evangelical shamans who harness the elements and hint at supernatural ability, into a regenerated future full of bright new colour, movement and renewal. No conventional dialogue exists throughout the show, with characters communicating in a fictitious, yet harmonious dialect.

The set is minimalist, the majority made up by LED screens at the rear and side of the stage, complemented by a pair of drums used by the two central characters.

P&O Cruises Head of Entertainment Brett Annable said the show was a step in a new direction for the line which, as part of a revamped entertainment offering, reflected modern Australia and that it was an example of “giving people something they may not have expected to see” while sailing on one of P&O’s ships.

“We’re taking a big leap into uncharted territory with Twice Upon a Time. Unlike anything Australian cruise guests will have seen at sea, it’s packed with raw emotion and the musical score & contemporary choreography is so powerful, it takes the audience to another place.”

Addressing guests prior to showtime, Choreographer Dale Pope said her initial brief from Producer Graeme Giles was: “I don’t necessarily need the audience to like this show but i do need them talking about this show.”

“It doesn’t have to be a likeable, pretty, fabulous, or an immediate attachment kind of show,” Pope added. “We’re aiming to not have a response of ‘that was nice’. We want something like ‘ooh i don’t know about that – it made me think a bit and made me a little bit uncomfortable’. So that was my starting point, which was really amazing.”

Overall, the storyline is deep, brooding, somewhat perverse and certainly aimed at a mature or maturing audience. While the music, percussion and harmonies are sublime and can be enjoyed by all ages, the setting in which they are used may be a little much for younger P&O ‘cruiselings’ to appreciate at face value. The storyline is such that it can be interpreted differently though, so if your voyage on Pacific Aria or Pacific Eden features a performance of ‘Twice Upon A Time’, make sure you are in the theatre when the lights go down.

CLICK HERE for more photos from today’s performance or for a look behind-the-scenes at how ‘Twice Upon A Time’ came together, check out this video.