Immersive theatre in London
Get involved in ways you never thought possible at these immersive theatre productions
Immersive theatre, interactive theatre, site-specific theatre; call it whatever the hell you like, but London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions to offer you an experience that’s more like a real life adventure than an evening at the theatre. Walk through fantasy landscapes; eat and drink with actors; get chased by the bad guys; help commit a crime – screw virtual reality, you can do all these things and more in the flesh, in London town. Here’s our round up of London theatre’s wild side.
- Rated as: 3/5
The Scottish Play is usually one of Shakespeare’s snappiest works, but this new immersive production of ‘Macbeth’ spits in the face of convention, and demands a whopping half a day from its audiences.
- Rated as: 3/5
These days, you’d struggle to find a decent chicken chow mein in what used to be London’s original Chinatown. That’s despite the fact that it has only been around 50 years since Limehouse was the bustling centre of Chinese life in London. Yellow Earth theatre company restore a little of that mostly disappeared community to the East End with ‘The Last Days of Limehouse’. It’s performed in promenade in the grand but crumbling Limehouse Town Hall which has been covered with evocative old photos of Chinese families outside their east London homes. The audience shuffle from scene to scene to watch the fictional story of the remarkable but misguided Eileen Cunningham and her encounter with the residents of Limehouse in 1958. An East End-born American, she is determined to stop the government from demolishing the area’s rundown buildings and preserve some of old Chinatown’s identity. Cunningham’s battle is almost entirely doomed, as most of the locals are just looking forward to being relocated to modern flats. But through her fiery protests we get to meet some of Limehouse’s more intriguing characters from that time.It’s a pity that the plot wanders the streets of Limehouse for as long as it does, partly because in the current heatwave it’s quite demanding to stand up in an airless room for two hours. But despite a story that drags a little, this is an undeniably interesting and enlightening show. Gary Merry and Kumiko Mendl’s production has lots of charm too, due in no small part
A bigger, more expanded version of the most recent in a series of site specific, audience interactive pieces staged at Theatre Delicatessen's headquarters on Marylebone High Street. 'Heist' opened earlier in 2014 and sold out pretty quickly. When you take part, you get to go commando, or spy bod, or criminal - whatever you want to call it - and have to steal a room's contents and get out again without being busted. Now the show is back with a riskier job and 'stronger liquor', apparently. There's new back rooms where you can party on Friday and Saturday nights in a new 'underground' space with live music. Tickets go on sale from Monday July 14 and the entry times vary between 18.00 and 21.30.
An interactive show by Art of Disappearing for two people who are set challenges and tests by an unseen narrator. Each pair are given headphones and asked to create images, crack codes and experience the room in different ways. Ages 10-plus. The show takes place every 20 minutes between 10am and 4.40pm.
Ever since the brilliant, maddening Shunt collective shut down their club night under London Bridge, their interactions into the real world have tended to be unexpected, ambitious, and deeply strange. Following 2009's 'Money' and 2012's 'The Architects', new show 'The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face' is a 45-minute experience that will take place in a pavilion built from shipping containers in a new open-air venue, The Jetty, a disused coaling jetty on the Thames. Quotes from Charles Kingsley and Joseph Conrad are literally the closest we've been given to any explanation of the plot. But we're promised 'a disorientating multi-sensory experience', with a pop-up bar hosting live music open till midnight Tuesday to Sunday. Best of all, the tickets are a bargain £10 – even if it's one of Shunt's not-infrequent follies, it's well worth a look at that price.