Goosebumps

Theatre, Comedy
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4 out of 5 stars
(20user reviews)
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Nostalgic horror fun in this uneven immersive theatre show

Despite being bang into rival young adult horror fiction franchise Point Horror as a tween, RL Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ series completely passed me by. Which perhaps suggests it never make it to my local library, as it seems impossible I’d have failed to clock them, given their sheer volume: the US author rattled off 62 novellas of terror in five years, followed by numerous spin off series, including ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps’, which in itself contains a walloping 50 books.

A film starring Jack Black recently hit cinemas, and several of the stories have been adapted and sewn together in Wateroo’s atmospheric Vaults to create an immersive theatre show.

Perhaps appropriately, it’s a bit of a weird beast. Aimed squarely at nostalgic millennials, the show is for ages 18-plus (though younger can come accompanied) with two bars selling medium-expensive cocktails served in large syringes. No drinking during the show, though, as a brief skit in the bar leads to us being divided into groups and led off into various recesses of the venue. Basically, in 90 minutes we got three very entertaining 10-15 playlets – crisply and knowingly updating a trio of Stein stories for an adult British audience – plus a lot of varyingly entertaining atmospheric in-betweeny stuff (much of which revolves around the iconic ‘HorrorLand’ and ‘Night of the Living Dummy’ stories – a bit of red meat for franchise fans).

I mostly enjoyed Tom Salamon and Gabriel Greene’s production but there’s quite the disconnect between the wantonly schlocky – but skilfully executed – stories, and the rest, which involves being herded through what’s essentially a big haunted house while a more concerted effort is made to scare you (though the most terrifying thing is the amount of time spent waiting). Really, I’d rather have either seen more stories (the first two are rattled off in quick succession and then the pacing becomes very stilted) or been allowed to explore the venue at will, Punchdrunk style. I gather a single visit only lets you see a portion of the sprawling show, which feels like a shame given it feels a bit content light.

More for those who fancy a drink, a larf, and a bit of nostalgia than actual terror, plus die-hard fans of the franchise may be a bit aggrieved if their favouite story wasn't crammed in (though presumably nobody was expecting all 62+).

A 50-minute kids' version begins in May and is almost certainly worth a look for those with little monsters.

Tue-Sat staggered entry until 9:30pm. Sun staggered entry until 7:30pm.

By: Andrzej Lukowski

Posted:

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
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Tastemaker

It’s the 90’s…I’ve come home from school mentally prepared for a spooky marathon of Eerie, Indiana, Are You Afraid of the Dark? And of course, R.L. Stine’s, GOOSEBUMPS! Fast forward to April 6th 2016 and a creative team including the designers who brought Alice’s Adventures Underground and Gingerline to London have transformed The Vaults under Waterloo into a maze of haunting sets to bring alive extracts from six original Goosebumps books, including The Haunted Mask and Night of the Living Dummy!


I promise no spoilers, but I will say that this was one of the best immersive theatre productions I have been to! The sets and costumes were outstanding and the actors, special effects, smells and music kept you on your toes throughout the 90-minute production. Expect genuine screams, pounding hearts, as well as, laughter and the possibility of ending up on all fours! Tickets start from £34 (including booking fee) and there is a bar that serves booze, burgers and toasties for before or after the show. I would actually recommend this as a slightly controversial date activity, I’d definitely be impressed if a gentleman booked us tickets!

Tastemaker

Briefly, the concept is a 90 minute journey in the Waterloo vaults taking you through various Goosebumps books/stories in vignettes of 5-20 minutes. 
My thoughts are that it was good for a giggle, and indeed did make me jump just once, it had a nice nostalgia feel to it if you were a fan of the books as a child, but it's not a die-hard-horror event and will seem boring to sum. I had a feeling of fondness all the way through and enjoyed it for what it was - feels a bit budget in places and the final scene is just weird, but I was pleased I did it and could make my own mind up. Given the chance, I would not go again but if you want a trip down memory lane it's worth a visit.

Bar available for cocktails and light snacks before or after, and a cloakroom and toilets on site too. Leave extra time to find the entrance - can be a little confusing, 

Tastemaker

A 90 minutes immersive experience in the Vaults, just next to Waterloo station (not easy though to find, thus arrive early). Either you already now about Goosebumps stories from your childhood or no, it is sure that you will have a great time. Actors guide you from room to room to experience different stories - you wil be splitted into groups as soon as the show starts, following different paths till the ending scene that you finally get back all together. The atmoshpere is spooky but not scary. If they only had a little more horror scenes to become more adult/horror friendly, then I would go for a 5 star review. Also, the ending seems poor according to all you have experienced tiil that time. Background music all the time; the amazing Tiger Lillies' spooky soundtracks.

tastemaker

I was a fan of the book series and tv series growing up, so was thrilled when I heard about Goosebumps Alive - a chance to revisit a fond memory from growing up with the added bonus of theatre/immersive experience, of course I was immediately interested! I initially thought tickets were a little on the pricey side at £25, however was persuaded by the the line of the website "These productions are world premieres and exclusive to London, so you will never have a chance to see them again!", I didn't want to miss out and happy to say I went and came out feeling like it was worth the money.


Saying as much as I can without going into too much detail with spoilers... I felt this experience was a really well done and cleverly thought out, must have taken so much time to come up with the whole concept and make it happen. The experience is more complex than the standard live action horror experiences found at the likes of London Dungeons, London Bridge Experience and Tombs where you just walk around with people jumping out of you (not that there's anything wrong with this, but I appreciated something different). Goosebumps Alive involves being devided into groups then being lead by creepy masked individuals into various rooms throughout the vast venue, the production is made up of a number of small performances, some of which involve the audience being adressed by the actors and others meant that the audience were simply onlookers - there isn't any audience participation so dont let the thought of acting or roleplay put you off. The shows themselves were quite lighthearted and a little freaky but nothing too terrifying to be honest, I think this was intentional in keeping with the vibe of Goosebumps - it is meant to be fun with comical undertones, so from what I can tell some people writing negative reviews seemed to be puehaps taking it a bit seriously or expecting a bit too much actual horror.


One of the things I was most impressed with was the venue - having never been been to The Vaults before a little difficult to locate, even with the "help" of Google Maps, which meant we didn't arrive the recommended 15 minutes before showtime but were bang on 9pm. Despite this we missed the introductory performance but the staff at the desk filled us in on what we were missing and snuck us in via a corridor and door. I will definitely look out for other things happening here in future, I've heard of Alice's Adventures Underground which might be worth a try.

The only thing preventing me from awarding 5 stars is that I don’t think as a group you see all the stories they perform in the show – every group has a different experience seeing a different selection of stories offered. I feel this was a bit disappointing, but only because I enjoyed it so much I didn't want to miss out on anything!

Tastemaker

For me the Goosebumps books are a vague memory from my childhood. I hardly remember them. So I wasn't desperate to go to see this but when I saw a good ticket offer I thought ‘go on then’.

The evening will take you on a journey through several of the Goosebumps books. They range from lasting 5 minutes to 20 minutes. The team have tried to weave an overarching story throughout the different tableaux scenes culminating in a dramatic-esque ending using one of the tunnels to great advantage.  

The overwhelming issue with this show is the sound bleed. If you’re trying to create a scene with tension and trying to spook your audience, it doesn’t really help that your audience can hear what is going on three tunnels away let alone one. Somewhat shatters the atmosphere…

With immersive theatre becoming ever so popular, with You Me Bum Bum Train being the height of immersive, then Goosebumps measures at about puddle level. Can we all stop mistaking immersive for promenade?

The stand out of the show is definitely the sets (though you can see money ran out when building the passageways etc – the spaces that link the scenes bring you back to earth with a bump – you remember you’re in the Vaults). Some of the sets are wonderfully intricate and the detail in many makes the scene. But sadly this isn’t enough to carry it.

They call it Goosebumps. But one thing you won't be left with is goosebumps. 


All a bit dull, shouty and too try-hard I'm afraid. I love going to the Vaults as it is such a unique space and this show couldn't easily be staged elsewhere but felt let down at the end. Most of the scenes had interesting sets and costumes for most of the actors but each seemed flawed in some way or other - tent scene : boring,  botanist : overly long; too much shouting; screechy girl, Cabaret - pointless, Lift - dire. Time clock - at least this was somewhat engaging. Can't even remember the rest and was glad when the 90 minutes was up.


Perhaps I'm too old for this sort of thing i.e. over 12!



Tastemaker

I had a list of reservations about Goosebumps Alive about as long as my arm. I associate R.L. Stein’s book series with the preadolescent memory of ordering monthly instalments from the Scholastic Bookclub leaflets. Even then, the books were silly, teetering on eerie at best, but certainly not sufficient to trigger a restless night. Still, they were popular and weird- and I vaguely recollect the follow-up television show broadcast on YTV during my teenage years in Canada as well- but I had mostly forgotten about their existence until I heard about this production opening in The Vaults.


I had innumerable misconceptions going into the show; mainly that it was targeted at children and that it would be a 90 minute stretch of actors jumping out from every corner. But I was wrong on both counts- this is definitely aimed at an older audience, based mostly on spurts of bad language, and most rooms have a snippet of a coherent plot. If you’ve actually read the series, some of these will evoke waves of nostalgia, but everything has been brought into the modern age. Say Cheese and Die is no longer about an antique Polaroid camera, but the elusive IPhone 8.


Every room is a self-contained narrative, some more elaborate and involved than others that seem to run from about five to 15 minutes respectively. Upon entering the space, you will be asked to select a group, dictating the path to take once you’re in the belly of The Vaults. And there are several different journeys possible- the narrative is bifurcated into two different sets of stories with a convergence into the same space for the finale. Goosebumps Alive is immensely clever and the show works via timecode, the timing synchronization system used for Danny Boyle’s monolithically elaborate Isles of Wonder opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics. If an actor misses a precise mark or a scene runs too long, it will have a disastrous domino effect on the rest of the scenes.


Without divulging too much about the specifics of Goosebumps Alive, we were broken into four groups- I was a spider- and were led through a bar, where the show began to unfold. Ostensibly taking place in the mind of a deranged young man who had covertly slipped into the crowd before descending into a fit of madness before our eyes, we were then split up and invited into the confines of R.L. Stein’s world. It was all extremely disorienting and got the adrenaline flowing, especially as you are hastily directed between spaces by a mute actor with features concealed underneath a burlap sack. The tone of every story vacillates between panicked realisation that you are in an enclosed space to moments of tension felt for the characters, who are so utterly obviously about to encounter something unpleasant…


We saw a total of five snippets from books- most were tidy iterations of some of the most well-known Goosebumps stories- and then there was a perilous experience in a lift and the grand finale, which was a visually wonderful attempt to tie up the narrative. The show shifts from moments of drawn out narrative (Scarecrow, for instance) to the breakneck speed taken to migrate from chamber to chamber. Aside from the overarching creepiness, this show is far from a zombie run or anything truly terrifying. While you can’t shake the eeriness of the ambiance, the experience never ceases to be anything but fun.


So, if like me, you dismissed this as one for the kiddies, you’ll be pleasantly surprised- there’s an abbreviated show appropriate for younger children during the day, but Goosebumps Alive is exhilarating enough to appeal to adults. But don’t expect to kick back and relax- while it isn’t as highly immersive as, say, Punch Drunk spectacles- it really is a heart-pounding adventure and not a sedentary activity. The actors are engaging and the quality and scale of the production itself- given that it’s fastidiously tracked to an atomically precise metronome- is remarkable.


If you’re thinking about it, the show is only running until the 5 June. The £32.50 price for a ticket can be overlooked because, frankly, this isn’t a cheap scare- this is a fully realised underworld of strange occurrences, disorientation and that feeling you get when you don’t know what’s just beyond the next threshold…All unfolding before your eyes in a perfectly executed production.


Oh, and it’s really, really fun.

Tastemaker

A fun but mixed evening - the scary bits are done very well and they've cleverly updated some of our favourite Goosebumps for the London millennial generation we live in - but the whole thing has a slightly shonky feeling and involves a lot of (either) dashing around corridors to get to the next scene or hanging around corridors because something is over running. There's quite a bit of bizarre over-acting at times, and at times you can hear and even see other scenes taking place nearby, but there are some genuinely creepy moments (when they ask if you're claustrophobic think carefully about your answer!). Not bad if you can score a cheap ticket, but I think I'd be disappointed if I'd paid the full £50 whack. A glorified ghost train.



It's very entertaining! It doesn't go beyond the limit of scaring people (i.e.: not touching) and it keeps you on your toes. The stories are very well elaborated and the actors are outstanding. The scenarios are very well constructed and they put a lot of attention to details. It could be slightly scarier though! 

Tastemaker

Underneath Waterloo tunnels there is a dark, dank and eerie labyrinth known as The Vaults, and for spring/summer 2016, it’s home to Goosebump Alive, a chilling and immersive theatrical experience for adults and kids alike, and boy was it awesome!



For 90 minutes, you’re exposed to a series of spooky theatrical performances based on or inspired from RL Stine’s popular 90’s chilling novels. You’ll be seated up close to the actors and you will feel as much as part of the hair-raising stories that unfolds before you.



The costumes, props and special effects were seriously impressive and combined brilliantly to create a creepy underworld. Gloomy corridors with its twists and turns were used to maximum effect, quickly disorientating chill-seekers and the acting was energetic and lively with a good dose of swearing which certainly wasn’t in the original books. The labyrinth that is The Vaults is truly a brilliant setting for Goosebumps Alive.



Kids of the 90’s who are now, of course adults (or are they…!) who read and loved RL Stine’s books will love this, myself included. It’s your RL Stine imagination reincarnated into real-life form. But even those unfamiliar with the spine-chilling novels of the 90’s will love Goosebumps Alive in equal measure for its superb acting, props, special effects, storytelling and immersive experience. Kids can go too believe it or not. On select day, a toned down version of the spooky experience is performed for the little ones.



Admittedly, it’s not super scary besides a few jumps and, er, goosebumps. But the gentle suspense from the original novels has been brilliantly recreated and reproduced for the modern adult audience. I would definitely go again and you should come along to...if you dare...!

Tastemaker

Rather hit and miss and hardly ‘chilling’. 


The sets, lighting and puppetry were impressive and the Vaults a perfect venue for this updated immersive theatrical experience. However the scripts and, at times, the acting left a lot to be desired. 


Completed over the 90 minutes; a single visit only allows you to experience three of the many ‘stories’ going on, between which you are herded swiftly past and sometimes through other groups of audiences leading to some confusion (at one point our group was severed in two and one half had to be shepherded back via a passing actor after accidentally ending up being ‘buried alive’). 


A brilliant concept with lots of potential but, alas, not up to the standard of other companies such as the amazing ‘Punchdrunk’.

Tastemaker

I bought a couple of tickets to my boyfriend as part of his three-part Chritmas gift and it was by far the best of the three – the gift also included an indoor skydiving which says a lot!

First of all, I can't think of any better setting for such a play than the Vaults: located in a gloomy tunnel behind Waterloo station, it's a concept venue that changes with every other month depending on what the event of the moment is. It's a maze of dark rooms and corridors: perfect for ghost story telling!

Even the bar was decorated for the occasion: walls covered in creepy masks by the Ministry of masks that my boyfriend fell in love with (weirdo), cocktails created just for the play and cider served using a beautifully crafted handle.

Now to the nitty gritty of things: the general play was great! You're put into small groups – I was a crow - and taken by masked (again) actors from room to room where you're told a different story each time. Most of them were based on the famous scary kiddy books. The actors were overplaying it a bit but hard to tell whether it was due to bad acting or a deliberate directing decision. Regardless, it was kind of charming. The decor was pretty realistic and transported you in a completely different atmosphere each time.

The final piece, which I'm not going to spoil for you, was incredibly impressive in terms of models and technicallity. After all, spoiler alert – if you don't like gigantic freaky clowns, you're signing up for a good few weeks of nightmares.

Book. Your. Tickets. NOW.


Very fun and original immersive experience I recommend it! Thanks time out for the tickets!


Had such good fun! Did the adult version last night and shrieked, jumped, ran at times, and laughed round the experience. I wasn't sure what to expect, but went along with a friend and it far exceeded my expectations, the set and staging are fantastic. Would recommend!


I went to Goosebumps Alive (ADULT VERISON) last night and really enjoyed myself!


Don't get me wrong- I wasn't jumping out of my skin every 2 seconds, as i'd prepared myself for, however I was laughing pretty much constantly! the scripts are hillarious and the acting very intimate and witty. It tickled me in a way I wasn't expecting at all! The areas you move through to get from room to room need lots of dressing up. It kinda pulls you out of the atmosphere, that I feel the writers and actors have worked so hard to create, and it takes a while for you to feel immersed in the story once more. 

The stories they depicted where done really well and the whole thing was much more grown up than i'd expected (lots of swearing and adult references) which I really enjoyed. 

All in all what made it for me was the acting (which again I was not expecting.) There were some lovely dark twists as expected and the actors depicted these really well. 

I'd recommend it- but don't expect to be scared stiff.


Goosebumps Alive for me is one of the best immersive shows around at the moment. If you've been to see Heartbreak Hotel then this is something similar where you're taken around different spooky sets and watch different stories/acts but on a much grander scale.

The performances were good, not as scary as I thought but still able to make you jump once in a while. The acting was good and the stories and costumes were to a high standard.

There is food and drink available at the venue at reasonable rates although I found it can get fairly warm within the venue so is probably worth leaving your coat at the door.


This review is for Goosebumps Alive (the 'adult' version). 


As a 30 something who brought a group of friends, the normal vs adult would suggest they had something juicy in store in terms of scaring the bejesus out of us. Unfortunately this was the not the case; 


The Good -  Acting as decent, sets are very good

The Bad - Simply not scary enough. Its hard to take a bunch of adults on an 'emotional scare journey' but there were so many more opportunities for 'jumpy scares' which lets be honest are the funny ones anyway. At £50 a ticket I expected a bit more imagination from whoever directed this - im not talking big budget stuff, just more unexpected movements etc etc.  


Incidentally there was a 14 year old kid who came on the tour with us and even he looked bored at certain points.