Dark roar envelops us from all sides. Swaying figures step in our way. They wear frogfish-like lights on their heads that illuminate their faces like masks. They say numbers with a stern look.

Some of them show some of us where to go: barrier-free, up on the stage. It’s called “immersive” these days. Literally, this means something like: “deepening”. Here, in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, it means that we should please join in, no matter how shallow it may be.

Most of them still look for a place in the auditorium individually, as usual, to look around in peace. Good this way. There is a lot to look at, after all: Susanne Kennedy’s reading of the opera “Einstein on the Beach” by Philip Glass relies on overpowering all the senses, using all means. Desert sand-colored carpets line the video-flooded stage, including a rotating turntable, on which stage designer Markus Selg has set up a kind of amusement park, composed of memories of early computer game worlds: a plastic campfire next to a Neanderthal cave entrance; an ancient temple ruin with a bull god altar; a piece of arena, podium plus dance floor; and towering over everything: the turbine of an apparently crashed spaceship. Could also be the entrance to a time tunnel.

Meanwhile, desert sand is blowing away the skeletons of the last primeval trilobites on the video screens, digital holes are spreading. Sandbags around the revolving stage area invite you to chill out. Soon fully occupied.

The musicians are housed in a kind of depression outside the building. In 1976 Philip Glass did not need more than eight instrumentalists for his “Einstein” – the legendary first cult piece of an expanded concept of culture. It is a laconic, monochrome chamber formation: two saxophones, two flutes, a bass clarinet, two keyboards – plus a conductor. André de Ridder holds the ensemble Phœnix from Basel together with the brilliant solo violinist Diamanda Dramm (aka Einstein), who wanders through the room, and the Basel madrigalists, not only in a sovereign manner. He swings along. Sets dynamic accents, ensures a lively “tempo giusto”.

This is admirable insofar as the blocked revolving stage moves slowly but constantly. Which is why the actors – said six actors with their heads illuminated and twelve singers (who wear their antenna bulbs on their chests to illuminate the notes) – cannot always catch a glimpse of one of the conductor’s monitors. Unless the audience unexpectedly walks through their field of vision. So it always comes back to tiny wobbles. Basically a “no go” with Glass’s music tableaux, which are organized from minimally varied repetitions and draw their power precisely from their clean, calculated transparency. But this time it didn’t bother anyone.

Three first-class sound designers and sound engineers got involved at two consoles, providing an almost epicurean sound. There was always something going on: parties were celebrated, yoga was practiced, intoxicating cult dances were performed and, to everyone’s delight, two charming pygmy goats were even taken for a walk. The applause at the end was overwhelming. The aria “Bed”, sung in vocalises by Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir, was particularly popular.

So Kennedy brilliantly achieved her directorial goal of turning “Einstein on the Beach” into a community-building group ritual. Only a few text fragments from the play that fit this reading were used. The political implications of “Einstein on the Beach” – the Hearst trial, for example – were completely ignored.

Memories of the original production directed by Robert Wilson, which toured the world until 2014, should definitely be left in the cloakroom beforehand. Otherwise there is no joy in this journey from I to we. As Lucinda Childs, actor in the world premiere, remarked years ago, the cult surrounding “Einstein on the Beach” grew a snag from the start: “It’s wonderful that people take the opera seriously and allow themselves to be influenced by it. But I see so much being taken out of context and it’s hard for me to look at it positively.”