Storefront City London

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London, Underground

vaults2WHAT: London, Underground
WHEN: February 28 & March 1, 2014 (10:30pm-3am)
WHERE: The Vaults, Waterloo (Leake Street, SE1 7NN)
WHO: The nabokov Arts Club
PRICE: £15 (Advance) – £18 (Door)

OUR RATING: Do It!

vaults1

Welcome to VAULT, a six week festival of arts and entertainment (Jan 28 – Mar 8) produced by the Heritage Arts Company in the labyrinth of tunnels and caverns underneath Waterloo Station. And then there’s Vault LATES, late night events Thu-Sat that vary anywhere from silent discos to burlesque debauchery and even some Mardi Gras celebrations.

Storefront City helped The nabokov Arts Club celebrate their 5th Birthday at VAULT Festival last night at London, Underground, a two-night extravaganza of live art. You can celebrate too if you get down underground tonight beneath Waterloo Station. It’s time to explore!

Adam: Lights string into the depths of the passageways that make up the vast edifice which is The Vaults. Striking out into the the chaotic milieu of plays, live music and revellers, its easy to get lost in the fantasy world beneath the concrete of London’s streets. Alternative, yet not threatening, London, Underground provided a veritable playground for the artistic spirit within all of us. The heads of Guardsmen with neon skin tones give you a royal honour guard whenever you walk the main hall, whilst innumerable clouds waft overhead in The Light Bar. Smaller venue alcoves line the tunnel, so go ahead and take your pick!

2014-03-01 01.13.27Starting with “The Pit”, the first alcove to your left upon entry, I was delighted to be treated to two plays. First up was Plums by Luke Barnes, which brings you the story of two lovers whose hidden secrets are both touching and disturbing. This was followed up by This Isn’t A Thing, Right by Lolly Jones, a tale of sexual comfortability, longing and luck. While very well received by the audience (Lolly Jones is currently a viral video star), I didn’t connect with the piece as well as I would have liked.

Unfortunately, we missed the headline act, 3RUN vs Bellatrix, an immersive free running and beatbox experience, which was very disappointing. This is due mainly to signage within The Vaults, which was few and far between, with Storefront City only discovering the small runsheet once the headline performance was over. Perhaps this is in keeping with The Vaults eclectic and immersive styling, but further signage and direction in future would be helpful.

King Porter Stomp

King Porter Stomp

Alicia: Live theatre, music, cabaret, comedy, poetry and visual art explode underground, all mashed together in an extreme balance of intimate performance and all-out party. If you don’t feel like sitting down and watching one of the many live performances and instead want to take advantage of a wild and crazy weekend night, enter The Light Bar for all your live music needs. Earlier on in the night you can get low with Dizraeli & Downlow’s hip-hop set, or later you can experience live funk, ska, dub and hip hop from King Porter Stomp, an 8 piece blend of horns, heavy bass and lyrics. As the night goes on and the party gets kicking, the whole venue sets its sights on the last act of the night, a DJ set by the Mystery Jets.

Yet the highlight of the night was Symphony, a collaboration with new writing company nabokov and playwrights Ella Hickson, Nick Payne and Tom Wells, which has been playing in The Vaults since Feb 18. Theatre meets live gig in The Cage with 3 short plays, a mix of stories told through music and spoken word, directed by Joe Murphy with music by Ed Gaughan, and with amazingly talented performances by Remy Beasley, Jack Brown, Iddon Jones and Adam Sopp.

Symphony

Symphony

The format is unique, yet inviting, with the audience ushered into a room of musicians. But when the door closes behind you, the simple gig transforms a fusion of plays and songs, an electric synthesis of mediums that mimics the varied talents and fluctuating roles of the four performers. We were drawn into all three of their pieces on the night (one of the reasons we missed out on 3RUN  and Bellatrix), including Jonesy by Tom Wells (a tumultuous and hilarious vignette of an asthmatic teenage boy in P.E.), A Love Song for the People of London by Ella Hickson (a tale of unrequited love and awkward meetings on public transport) and My Thoughts On Leaving You by Nick Payne (a story of relationships and mistakes, with the requisite amount of alcoholic declarations of love, sombreros and bathroom stall hookups). If I wouldn’t have known the background to the performance, I would have assumed this quartet had always been an ensemble and that the pieces were all created by them. The sets were amazingly cohesive, and the performances both charming and intoxicating.

Final Thoughts: Awesome venue? Check! Live arts? Check! Fantastic night? Double Check! London, Underground is just the kind of event the city needs more of, so get there before it closes so you can be part of the experience.

P.S. Can’t make London, Underground? Or perhaps the ticket price is a little steep for you? Not to worry! Tickets to other shows are as little as £7.50, and you can even stop by Tuesday and Wednesday nights for free live music and comedy.

Future Cinema presents ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’

WHAT: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
WHEN: February 14 – February 23, 2014
WHERE: The Troxy (490 Commercial Road, E1 0HX)
RUNTIME: 180 to 240 minutes
WHO: Future Cinema
PRICE: £34.30-47.10

OUR RATING: Do It!

Los Angeles. 1947. The sound of streetcars, jazz and big band. Hollywood.

Standing in a queue down a dark alleyway next to The Troxy, a stunning art deco building built in 1933, one is immediately transported through the decades to the 1940s, dressed elaborately in post-war fashion and buzzing with anticipation for a bit of swing dancing, a little big band, and a lot of…cartoons?

Future Cinema, a live events company that specialises in bringing the cinema experience to life in a fusion of performance, film, multimedia, design and a wealth of interactive encounters, brings Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to The Troxy stage, immersing audiences in the fantastical and comedic world where live action meets animation, and where private detective Eddie Valiant investigates a murder involving the famous (and hilarious) cartoon character, Roger Rabbit.

Alicia: Future Cinema has produced other shows at The Troxy, but Who Framed Roger Rabbit? really wouldn’t belong anywhere else. It was a perfect representation of the film’s Ink & Paint Club, which itself was a nod to the Harlem nightclub The Cotton Club, a famous go-to spot during the Prohibition Era. Today, the venue is used for anything from weddings to live music to sporting events, and is a drop-dead gorgeous spot for anything it hosts. If you think the place is lovely on the outside, your senses are overwhelmed by the majesty of the interior, with art deco fan carpeting, interiors of purple, turquoise and cream, massive chandeliers, sweeping staircases, and a general opulent decor that is magnified impressively with theatrical lighting. Walking in, you are struck with awe.

Credit: Future Cinema

Credit: Future Cinema

Before walking in however, the experience started with the Toon Patrol, Future Cinema’s take on the crazy bullying weasels from the film, who roamed the alley interrogating the audience, clad in their colourful zoot suits and complete with maniacal laughter. Upon entering the club, you were even stopped by good ol’ Bongo, the gorilla bouncer from the movie. Let’s just say the password wasn’t the famed ‘Walt sent me,’ but the interaction with Bongo is a riot.

Credit: Future Cinema

Credit: Future Cinema

The interactive experience continued throughout the night, from conversations with Marvin Acme, crazy antics from the penguin waitstaff, and a hilarious conversation I had with R. K. Maroon about not showing up Bugs in a new film we’re making. I’m really not a fan of having conversations with actors in this kind of interactive experience (I like to be left alone and observe, usually), but I tried to let myself go and become one of the Hollywood elite, allowing myself to become immersed and becoming a character myself.

Credit: Future Cinema

Credit: Future Cinema

The tie-in to the film was even lovelier with cabaret acts reminiscent of those in the movie, such as the ever-necessary “Why Don’t You Do Right?” by Jessica Rabbit herself and a marvelous rendition of “Hungarian Rhapsody (Dueling Pianos)”. There was some odd talent outsourcing, where people from the audience were invited up as part of the talent show…which, in concept, was nice, but in execution was a little strange. Otherwise, this was a perfect manipulation of the Ink & Paint Club from the film, and really brought the entire experience to life in a whirl of fantastical comedy.

Credit: Future Cinema

Credit: Future Cinema

Adam: I must say that I entered Future Cinema’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with a bit of trepidation. Would they be able to pull it off? I’ve been to immersive events before, from in-cinema cult classics to elaborately staged Punchdrunk. Some of the initial viewer reviews were less than positive – would this experience measure up? Thankfully, I’m pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, full of the gleeful fun the movie is so well known for.

Credit: Laura Little

Credit: Laura Little

Tables lined the repurposed Troxy, now the Ink & Paint Club, whilst actors roamed the venue, looking for newcomers on whom to try out their routines. Once we had seen the pre-show entertainment, the movie began in all its 1940s glory, whilst actors representing the famous characters occasionally picked up from the movie. You were literally in the club, with everyone from Eddie, to Roger to Jessica all around you.

Credit: Hanson Leatherby

Credit: Hanson Leatherby

Before the film is in full swing, you’ll probably want to pick up some grub. A wide variety of offerings are available including French dips, pulled pork sandwiches, apple pie, carrot cake, mac and cheese and a carrot in a bun for all you rabbits out there. Be warned: the food and drink prices are steep when you take into account admission (French dip will cost you £7, whilst cocktails are £8). Still, one can take advantage of the numerous toppings and you can easily feed two people on a French dip if you are generous with your pickles, sauerkraut and red onions.

Once you’ve munched through your food and the movie is at an end, the whole club takes on a new atmosphere as tables are cleared and revelers move to the dance floor for some 40s-style clubbing. So get swinging and dance!

Final Thoughts: A new take on a classic movie, Future Cinema’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a unique experience that is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Although more highly priced than previous Future Cinema events, going with the right attitude gives you your money’s worth. Be warned: seating is first come, first serve, so get there early and snag a table up front to avoid disappointment. And remember, ‘[Roger’s] whole purpose in life is to make… people… laugh!” so laugh your heart out with the toons at this whimsical event.

P.S.: If you can’t get over to The Troxy for this immersive event, pick up a copy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and see what all the fuss is about.

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