Storefront City London

Archive for the tag “Immersive Theatre”

The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face

shunt-artwork-Time-Out-528x334WHAT: The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face
WHEN: 14 Aug-28 Sept, 2014
WHERE: The Jetty
(Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0FL)
RUNTIME: 45 mins.
WHO: Shunt
PRICE: £10

There’s big business in immersive theatre these days. With the rise of Punchdrunk and consequent rise of ticket prices, Shunt’s The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face provides the full, rich force of the immersive experience without the outrageous price tag. Beautifully poignant, unsettling and often funny, Shunt uses the space it has excellently and evokes many fantabulous vignettes, in which attention to detail is always evident and caring.

images (10)Adam: After walking some time from the North Greenwich DLR station and leaving behind the more obvious signs of life, I approached what is aptly described as The Jetty, a new riverside venue hosting Shunt, in the old Docklands area. It’s very important that I don’t spoil this incredibly special experience, but from the outset it is clear that clambering through disused shipping containers will be key to your journey.

As you venture deeper into the complex of containers, the bizarreness of the world becomes ever more brazen – highly detailed worlds emerge from the dark to get lost in, while characters top off the surrealism with psychologically challenging performances.

There is something funhouse about the whole performance and it is best experienced by those not afraid to dive in and get involved. Before you know it, the 45 minutes are up, as is the case with many immersive productions. Perhaps some would say it is just too short, but by concentrating their efforts to a confined space and definite vision Shunt creates a believably weird world – one which it was a pleasure to be a part of.

shuntAlicia: Shunt has taken great pains to transform a series of shipping containers into a melange of beautifully absurd stories and environments, taking you outdoors, indoors and within minds all at the same time. It is obvious that a shipping container environment could provide some limitations to a theatre piece due to size constraints and a variety of other factors but this has not stopped this ambitious and risk-taking company in creating a masterful world. While the aesthetics of some of the rooms are breathtaking in their vision, it is really the characters who pull the whole piece together, inviting the audience to explore, consider and question. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much of the show!

shunt4What makes this Shunt show a great experience is that the company invites you for a full night out. When you make your way to The Jetty you immediately step into a pop up BBQ and Cocktail bar complete with entertainment and live music to keep your blood pumping before and after the performance. Chef Matthew Baxter is the man of the hour here, producing sumptuous treats with anything from fish and chips to barbeque ribs and pulled pork. But really, the Long Island Iced Tea with a scoop of fresh coconut ice cream was the crème de la crème of the night.

It will be interesting to see what The Jetty next has in store in regards to pop-up and participative experiences – I’m sure we’ll be back here again soon!

shunt3Final Thoughts: The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is your go-to show this month. For a tenner you can get great live music, explore the Greenwich Peninsula, and experience the peculiar and beautiful work Shunt is known for. Shoeless and vulnerable, we suggest you let Shunt guide you through this unique maze of adventure. And make sure to look out for our favorite bit in the last scene. Hint: it has batteries.


WHAT: Leviathan
WHEN: 15th-26th July, 2014
WHERE: Hackney Downs Studios (17 Amhurst Terrace, E8 2BT)
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.03.25 PMRUNTIME: 45 mins.
WHO: Living Structures
PRICE: £16-20


[Warning: Contains Spoilers]

The hunt for the great white whale. Immersive Theatre-makers Living Structures specialise in  visual, physical and musical performances within large-scale immersive structures, this time attempting to take audiences on an artistic adventure through the high seas.

This time, Storefront City London invited our Visual Arts editor Éimear Doherty (check her bio below) along for the ride:

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.03.08 PM

Photo by Angela Alegria

Éimear: My first exposure to Moby Dick was the 1956 film starring Gregory Peck. I remember feeling perplexed and uneasy after the black and white classic…then again, I was only 7 years old, so I forgave myself for not quite picking up on the complexity of the tale and film. Last night, however, I felt a little bit of a failure. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to completely immerse myself in the experience, too distracted by a litany of questions:

Am I supposed to understand what they are saying?’

‘Why are they pushing me?’

‘What am I supposed to do with this shot of salted water?’

‘What did she say?’

‘Is this theatre or performance art?

I enjoyed the musical element of the performance; the chanting and exercise-ball-percussion brought a dimension to the experience that I think many could enjoy.

Photo from Living Structures

Photo from Living Structures

But Living Structures is known for their ‘immersive performance events’, correct? The audience was ‘immersed’ in parts, but if I am being honest, on too many occasions, I felt coerced. At 9pm, after a balmy day in London, I had experienced my fair share of pushing and shoving for the day. Either this was a play exclusively for Living Structures’ followers, who understood how to ‘perform’ as an attendee, or it aimed to immerse the audience in a space above and beyond their comfort zone.

As someone who enjoys trying new things, I cannot help but shed a positive light on the experience. It certainly did challenge and provoke many a thought. But surely nothing should be that difficult to follow and enjoy. This time, Skip it.

Photo by Angela Alegria

Photo by Angela Alegria

Alicia: Despite being a regular immersive-theatre goer, I had a strikingly similar experience of the performance as did our guest reviewer. Walking into the performance space sent chills down my spine (despite feeling clammy and uncomfortable wearing a version of an oil-skin jacket) as a naked Ishmael swam his way on a downward slope, struggling for survival, struggling to tell his heart-wrenching story. And it was powerful, beautiful, sonically excellent. But then he opened his mouth and the entire show turned for the worse.

Photo by Angela Alegria

Photo by Angela Alegria

There are seeds of beauty – flutters of potential. The use of monochrome colours, geometric shapes and Russian Constructivism are mostly all stunning, the choreography sometimes masterful. And the music? In an entire different league, at least in terms of composition – spectacularly haunting. But these moments are few and far between. The show as a whole feels extremely unpolished and the relationship with the audience completely unclear. It needs tightening here, expanding there, focus everywhere. Not just gimmicks of “Why not make the audience stand up and then push them to the side so they don’t know where you want them?” or “Let’s just put another sheet on top of their heads to play with space and height.” Many theatre makers adopt these types of tools, but never has it been so painfully obvious and obviously misused.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.03.50 PMI commend Living Structures for the graphic and sonal beauty of rare poetically beautiful moments. But the piece overall is just confusing, rushed, and poorly tied together. Words are eaten by the very devices that are meant to project them, water cools and drizzles on the audience when it should spark and ignite their imagination, giant whales are flacid and lifeless when they should be terrifyingly dangerous, the ship sails calm seas when it should be tossed, turned and whipped around by perilous storms and a deadly beast, and large props are dragged here and there leaving one to question – what was it all for?

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.02.37 PMFinal Thoughts: While admirably composed and a good effort made, Leviathan simply doesn’t live up to the grandeur required of it. However, we hope to see what the future brings for this inspired company.

P.S. Éimear Doherty Bio:

Éimear is in the final stages of her MA in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck University, a project she juggles alongside a number of other projects and passions. Since moving permanently to London in the autumn of 2013, she has endeavoured to attend as much theatre as her time and pocket permits; striving to catch up after years of being immersed in the world of visual arts and art history. When not in the library or kitchen, Éimear can be found on her bike or eyeing up the city’s latest art exhibitions.

The Rise and Fall of Geo Goynes

WHAT: The Rise and Fall of Geo Goynes
WHEN: March 19 – 22, 2014
rootexperienceWHERE: St. James Theatre (12 Palace Street, SW1E 5JA)
RUNTIME: Approx. 120 min
WHO: Root Experience


[vimeo 83862854]

“Secret….agent man. Secret….agent man!”

Okay, alright, maybe forget the song. But the 007 theme song or something similar might definitely buzz through your head while you are plunged into a new, challenging and adrenaline-filled world on a secret mission to protect each and every one of your fellow men and women.

Geo-Goynes-478x359Alicia: Root Experience is an interactive theatre company that devises performances based on “a structure that invites debate, direction and inclusion” from audiences, with an aim to have both audiences and actors feel fully present in the work at each and every moment. Although many of their workshops and performances have been in Brighton, this particular experience (in development) has traveled to both Brighton Digital Festival and York Theatre Royal, and now right to the heart of London.

Storefront City had the opportunity to test the waters with this show in development, merging gameplay and technology and allowing you to make choices that shape your own experience. Communicating through headsets, you encounter different people around the city and literally take part in writing the script to your own story (let’s just say I’m not very eloquent when put on the spot), sometimes working individually and sometimes in teams to pursue targets, monitor actions or even go undercover and attach yourself to the evil-doers.

In The Rise and Fall of Geo Goynes, London becomes the backdrop to an adventure for truth and for those who know it, sell it, and use it to suit their own purposes. Welcome to 2017. A new era where your friends start to report strange feelings of foresight, where future events are predicted and identities transformed. Where no one is safe from the all seeing eyes, and when the future becomes the present, and the present a mission for survival.

Adam: Have you ever been asked to find a manila envelope taped to some inconspicuous location? How about distracting someone while obtaining information vital for your survival? If this is all too Spooks for you, then perhaps you won’t enjoy The Rise and Fall of Geo Goynes. If, on the other hand, you’re like me you can’t get enough of spies and spying, then you’re in for a ride, sans the Walther PPK.

Placed in a small group, your team must work together to solve the mystery of Geo Goynes. I really don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you’ve ever wanted to play spy, this is a must for you. Fool the surveillance, try to deploy and virus, all while working out what it all means…

In this world, Root Experience welcomes you to contribute to the path that lies ahead of you, and while you might feel out of your comfort zone every once in awhile, you never feel unsafe or manipulated by the events you find yourself immersed in. But you are certainly an active participant and the mission would surely not go on without you.

Make sure to bundle up if it looks cold outside, because this show is entirely on the street…and don’t talk to strangers!

Final Thoughts: Explore London in a way you never have before and be prepared to play with others in this ultimate conspiratorial adventure!

P.S. Unfortunately, this show is now sold out, but we’re sure The Rise and Fall of Geo Goynes or other adventures by Root Experience will come around soon!

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