Posts Tagged London

Through the RIFT with no Spoilers

I am very fortunate to know some incredibly creative people in London, which meant I was lucky enough to be one of the Alpha-testing audience members for RIFT’s new, and already sold-out, immersive event.

Macbeth.

Macbeth RIFT All rights reserved.

Moving on swiftly! 🙂

If you’ve never experienced it before immersive theatre puts the audience right in the middle of the action and is something for the more adventurous theatre goer. In this case we were met in the street by release form bearing stewards who walked us down to the base of an imposing 1980s tower block in Tower Hamlets.

There we were greeted by a rambunctious Eastern European Military-styled chap called Uri who wore an extremely large hat and advised us how we may experience some disorientation moving between worlds. Moments later we were walking through the Rift itself into an alternative reality somewhere in the early late seventies early eighties.

Being a bit of an old hat at the immersive theatre malarky, from the hugely elaborate big-budget Punchdrunk and Secret Cinema events to many others, I was still blown away by the logistical challenges the RIFT team have overcome with an exceptionally clever running schedule enabling backstage teams, and teams of actors to seamlessly create a completely believable, if utterly bizarre, world around their expertly rotated audiences.

Throughout your trip you are chaperoned by a guide; we were very fortunate to have the wonderful Anushka taking care of us, who told us about life in the reality we had found ourselves in and guided us through the labyrinthine maze of rooms in the “Castle”.

The play itself takes the Macbeth many of us are familiar with and turns it on its head, actors stride and argue and fight amongst the crowd, drawing audience members into conversation, then drift into the main storyline as domineering ghosts; playing out a tragedy the audience and their guides are powerless to stop.

Having been part of the first audience to set foot in this strange new world I recommend comfortable shoes, an open mind, and a willingness to interact with your guide and their colleagues. Participation will make your experience all the more (un)comfortable and intriguing as you become caught up in the strange alternative reality that has been constructed around you.

As mentioned before their show is currently sold-out, however should the run be extended I recommend that get yourself booked into this strange and discombobulating fantasy world and let your imagination get taken for a ride on a challenging and clever interpretation of the Bard’s work.

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Hibernation is Over!

*kicks away the tumbleweed, dusts down some spider webs*

Looks like I am going to have to change this blog from “sporadic updates” to “random updates” at this rate!

Apologies readers, I have been caught up in the world of new business*, a broken mobile phone camera, and full time work so failed to keep up with the blog, however I have been making some effort in other corners of the internet as you will see I have been trying by adding reviews of restaurants and interesting places to Trip Advisor.

Anyways, so what next for the blog?

Well I got a new phone with a snazzy camera so first off, here’s a picture of one of the hidden gems of central London, the Fountains at Barbican as viewed from Gilbert Bridge:

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Well we’re off to Budapest for an extended weekend, and have heard there are many an interesting sight to behold so stay tuned.

*Social Results

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They put a mountain inside a shed!

Once upon a time I went skiing with my school on a dry ski-slope in the exotic county of Gloucestershire, the slopes were made of worn plastic fibres which lacerated the ear of one of our teachers who tumbled on the way down. It was an odd experience, that was followed by a awkward ride on an agitated horse, never to be repeated and ne’er a ski slope (nor horse for that matter) has been seen since.

Then we arrive in the 21st century, in a town called Hemel Hempstead and they’ve gone and put a mountain into the biggest shed I’ve ever seen. Alright, when I say mountain, I may be slightly exaggerating, but it’s as near as damn it as you are going to get just outside of London.

The Snowcentre is an amazing piece of engineering, it contains two slopes covered in snow generated inside a giant freezer. Sitting in the cafe bar watching people hurling themselves down on skis and snow boards is completely mesmerising, definitely worth a visit even if you don’t fancy doing it yourself.

Oh, the skiing. Well I tried. The beginners lesson I attended lasted two hours, our skiing instructor was funny, and very supportive of our rather uncoordinated attempts to make it down the hill in one piece. Though we fell and launched ourselves into nets, and I had spent the first hour in boots a whole size too small feeling sick with pain (my fault there – don’t believe that ski boot sizes correspond to real world shoe sizes!), it was fun and having recovered I may just do it again.

As for real mountains? I’ll stick with the big shed for now, you can’t fall off the side. 🙂

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The Invisible Circus

In 2008, at one of the lowest points in my life, I had one of the most amazing experiences when a dear friend convinced me to go on an adventure with her to an event called Carny Ville in Bristol.

I had little idea what to expect, except that my love of steampunkery would be more than catered for, so we got dressed up an off we went to Bridewell Island.

The moment I stepped into the courtyard I was blown away, I felt as if I had been transported to my idea of heaven. There were flaming Victorian streetlights, a lovely gender-blending paper boy, a flaming moving piano, a punk barn dance collective called Cut a Shine (who to this day I try to see as often as possible!), amazing punky aerial displays above ridiculously small crash mats, the Glitzy Bag Hags who scrambled my brain with a song about doing naughty things with David Hasslehoff, hoopers and a gentleman charlaton trying to hypnotise us. It was incredible.

Now three years later in London, I heard that there was a film being screened about The Invisible Circus, the collective who had put on this amazing event, so with just a few hours notice I found myself turning up at the Channel 4 building after work.

The film is called Invisible Circus: No Dress Rehearsal and follows the story of the fabulously talented, creative and hardworking group, from squats to private buildings and all of the events leading up to that amazing night at Carny Ville.

I urge everyone to see this film, to see how hard people will work, and to what lengths they will go when they are driven by an all consuming passion to create something magical. Watching the film brought the back the feelings of awe and excitement I had felt that night; I hope that someday I will feel that again.

Whenever and wherever The Invisible Circus next appears I will be there to play and cheer them on.

Fabulous.

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Zombiepocolypse

You have left work and arrived at a designated meeting point close to London Bridge.

You have approximately 2.8 hours to get to survivors of the Zombie invasion in order to get coordinates that will allow you to navigate the area and arrive at the resistance HQ.

Additionally you will have to avoid being tagged and infected by rather fast moving Zombies as you go.

This is 2.8 hours later, a real time game devised and organised by Slingshot, and its terrifying, difficult, and funny as hell.

Before this, the only time I was likely to break into a sprint would be if I was being chased by an axe wielding tiger. But I ran like hell screaming like a girl, as did my team mates, when the Zombies appeared on street corners and under bridges.

This was my first experience of a “pervasive” or “location-based” game, it was run like clockwork, and despite knowing it was a game I was drawn into the crazy story.

So did we make it? Three of our seven strong team (me included) were infected and despite making it to HQ there was nothing they could do for us, except hideously effective Zombie make-up.

I shall be on the look out for more of these games, though I must say the bar has been set very high. This was a treat, and as I am aware it will be taking place in other cities in the future I say go for it.

It should be noted that this was an extremely physical challenge; those with mobility, or physical health problems should check with the organisers of these kinds of games before buying tickets.

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A Kind of Corporate Chaos

Imagine someone took reality, shook it about a bit and dropped you into a universe that was similar, but somehow completely different to the one you normally inhabit.

This is immersive theatre.

Last night I was lucky enough to go to the Office Party at the fictional company Product Solutions, and it involved every kind of over-the-top office party drama you could imagine and many you wouldn’t.

Instead of passively watching the audience is subsumed into the company, given ID badges and allocated to different departments at this wonderful site-specific venue. Before long an elaborate story unfolds drawing the audience into the fray as things become more challenging and surreal.

Let the Games Begin

Not one for spoilers; if you have never experienced immersive theatre before this event is something special and I strongly recommend giving it a go. I may just make my way there again before the end of the run in January.

Motivational Speaker?

If you can’t make this event, but like your entertainment to be challenging do try to find something immersive, it’ll change the way you look at theatre for good.

I do caution that this is not likely to be enjoyed by reserved people who do not like to get involved, or find burlesque a bit too much. This event is about as loud and raucous as it gets, and as there is nowhere to run you have to just suspend your disbelief and go for it.

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LOLSexyKittens

Have you seen The Kitten Club?

If not please remedy this as soon as you are able, unless you are allergic to laughing your socks off, or too young to get into a bar.

If you have let them know I think they are awesome and I wish them all the success they deserve.

I have seen these brilliant ladies on two separate occasions now and I can confirm that they are a hilarious and very talented and much better value than your average burlesque troop.

Yes there are the very sexy outfits, and the amazing singing and the brilliantly naughty stripping, but who would have expected the laugh-until-you-cry magic trick involving a banana being confused with a bandana, or the interactive story that plunges head first into the bizarre dragging the audience with it?

Go on have a brilliant night out.

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Gosh, What a Blahdy Good Show Chaps!

And I’m back!

Actually I haven’t really been gone, just had an eating and drinking induced hiatus in part caused by the extended celebrations over the Christmas/Yule/New Years/Hogmany period.

So whats going on in London town I hear you cry.

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour, that’s what, and its brilliant and hilarious and extraordinarily clever.

Tongue firmly planted in the most proper and well to do of cheeks, this ensemble cast recreate the live radio plays of the 1940’s in the perfectly suited and delightfully intimate Trafalgar Studios, yup you guessed it right next to Trafalgar Square.

And by golly they put some welly into it, from cabbages and hammers to trunks full of crockery and the most spectacular array of hats they recreate stories of adventure and intruigue through the rose tinted glasses of the British Empire delivered in the sharpest of cut-glass Received Pronounciation English you are likely to hear outside of Belgravia.

The timing is spot on, the faux-squabbling and unappreciated simulated kiss sequences add up to an evening of pure class.

If you get a chance, go for it.

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Show Film First

Finally after many years of being unable to coordinate my social life to fit around last minute film suprises I managed to get hold of a couple of tickets for the Show Film First preview screening at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square.

We’d all guessed that one of the films may almost definitely turn out to be Tron, but when the announcement was made a thunderous roll of aproval rippled across the audience.

But more was to come.

The first film to be shown was The Next Three Days, an interesting though somewhat contrived caper. Sadly I felt that it was around twenty-minutes too long, and now having found it is a remake of a French film called Pour Elle (For Her) I am considering getting my subtitle reading brain out of storage to see if the original is better.

By now most people who were going to have seen it will have seen Tron. Its shiny, and as our showing had the producer in situ the four projectors and the sound system were tweaked to perfection over a couple of hours and cranked to the max.

And I liked it.
I liked it enough to see it again at the IMAX.

Yeah it could have been better, yes Jeff Bridges 2.0 has a weird dead eye thing going on (but seriously how close are they getting to “real”?),

But most of all I was happy with the eye-popping-candy brain-chewing-gum fun of watching grown adults running around in shiny skin tight onesies. Haha!

As for the event as a whole, I enjoyed it very much. As an internet-junkie and a lover of films and the art of performance it was good to find out about the people behind the Usernames we see on the screen advising us or deterring us from films taking part in debate and question and answer sessions interdispersed between trailers for the next year.

So my tips for this year:

The Kings Speech
Black Swan
Morning Glory

Oh and See Film First & Show Film First…. More Please!

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Night at the Design Museum

Last Friday we went to the Design Museum Ball, and at just ÂŁ5.00 a ticket it has to be one of the best cheap nights out you can have in central London.

As always didn’t get around to everything but we did experience the following:

An opportunity to see all of the exhibits in the museum, a mixture of very clever and very thought provoking, and I was pleased that there was some interactive fun to be had. Yes I am a big kid at heart.

Very gentle beginners waltzing lessons with a very nice instructor and a string quintet being conducted by a gentleman with a very fetching textile chicken on his head.

Everyone togged-up in their finest chomping on grapes from the huge vines strewn across the centre of the tables whilst using a combination safety scissors and, at least in my case, an endless supply of wax crayons to make fabulous and interesting masks.

The following pictures are the result of our very different artistic approaches to exactly the same basic template we were kindly provided with at the start of the evening. As mentioned above mine is the everso slightly colourful one:

I love the textures that were made by moulding the paper by hand, very effective.

Crayon tastic!

This onsite arts and crafts approach coupled with some very creative and elegant masks pre-prepared by attendees made for a very sociable and colourful night.

We also spent a very looong time going “oooh, look look!!” at amazing and fun and clever things in the Little Shop* and then going “ah, right” when seeing the price tag. One day all the shiny will be mine, muhaha… ahem…

There was also a Routemaster Bus parked outside which apparently was full of posh frocks and the like for those who had turned up unprepared. Having made the effort in advance we didn’t jump on to have a look, though I think we will have to sneak in for a nose around next time.

*If you thought Doctor Who when you read that get +2 Awesome Geek points. 🙂

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