The degeneration game - 'The Apocalypse Gameshow'
Limber up for the end of days at an immersive night out that mixes survivalist boot camp with tea-time telly
It was all going so well. My pick for the Four Horsemen derby was running at great odds and the aspirational eugenics department had selected my seed to repopulate the earth. Then I went and got myself shot in the back while looting. I should never have gone back for that flatscreen telly…
But that's life at 'The Apocalypse Gameshow', an end-of-the-world shindig aptly billed as 'the only survivalist boot camp and testing facility encased in a light-entertainment sugar shell'. The show is the brainchild of producer Aste Amundsen and cabaret performer Tom Baker - who plays MC as wannabe dictator Dex Sinister, a crisis junkie, conspiracy nut and hoarder of priceless art and dog food - and has been around, in mutating forms, since 2007. Its latest incarnation might just be the best.
The unique venue is the kind of thing you'd find in Ideal Bunker magazine: MS Stubnitz, a huge former East?German fisheries ship retooled as a roving industrial punk-style party venue. Find your way onboard and you'll meet the Apocalettes - think Amy Winehouse after an explosion in an Airfix factory, with a hint of Mrs Overall - who'll assess you for your survivalist know-how, psychological robustness and calorific value. (With an estimated count of 272,228, I could apparently feed a group of nine for a fortnight. Good to know.)
Once you've established whether you're a neo-Luddite or quantum psychonaut, been kitted out in your boiler suit, and made it to the bar - yes, the end times have beer - the games begin.
Audience members spin the wheel of misfortune to select a category of cataclysm, from economic meltdown to natural disaster, alien invasion to religious rapture, then play a game. You might have to defend precious vegetables from marauders, armed only with a fly-swatter; resist cult indoctrination from sheet-wearing weirdos; or go looting against a ticking clock in the face of a hail of Velcro-balls.
This, you might have gathered, was my lot. At one end of the metal gangplank: me, a Velcro tabard over my boiler suit. At the other: a pile of random-looking packages above which lurked an Apocalette brandishing a fuzz-gun. My first run was a triumph: I made it back, arms overflowing with boxes of tinned food and JD Sports's finest. The second time, I thought I was being clever, fashioning a makeshift shield out of a flatpack. But the Apocalette was too sharp a shot: looter down. Ah well. Few make it to the other side at this show.
It all makes for a witty, timely and hugely enjoyable night out - and an awfully British apocalypse. We're pretty confident this is the only place this weekend where you'll be asked: 'Would you like a chocolate biscuit? It might be your last…'