Time Out says
London’s summer festival is an oasis of uncomplicated fun
There is something deeply soothing about the London Wonderground festival. In an uncertain summer in which it’s rapidly becoming apparent that we’re still a very long way from where we were two years ago, the Wonderground is a veritable immersion in the fun, frivolously extra paraphernalia of the festival season. There’s an artificial beach with deckchairs, a helter-skelter, bumper cars, endless bars and food stalls… and of course, a giant inflatable upside-down cow, aka the Udderbelly – the iconic performance venue recognisable from its years on the South Bank and at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Maybe none of this stuff is amazing in and of itself, but certainly for me it at the very least feels deeply nostalgic: the much-missed trappings of a normal summer. On the sunny July night on which it opened, it was just really nice to drift around its new Earl’s Court site with a drink in hand and sort of nod approvingly at things I remembered from the recent pre-pandemic past.
You probably could spend a nice enough evening here without taking in a show if the weather was right and you really enjoy drinking in deckchairs. But it’s the shows that provide the main impetus to get down here. As ever with the Wonderground, the genre is ‘a bit of everything’ – there is a substantial kids’ programme, a reasonable amount of comedy, a bit of music, and a smattering of cabaret.
The headline act for the bulk of the festival (until August 15) is 360 Allstars, a ‘supercharged urban circus’ whose name alludes to the array of skills its members bring to the table: there’s a beatboxer, a drummer, various b-boys, a BMX guy, a cyr wheel guy and a basketball guy. Loud, with retro-videogame-style graphics, and zero female performers, it’s kind of the performance equivalent of having an entire can of Lynx Africa sprayed into your face… but again, in 2021 that’s okay. It’s dumb escapist fun that electrified a largely young audience, and it’s probably the sort of thing that people need right now. So much intensive work has gone into trying to save Britain’s cultural crown jewels that we perhaps sometimes forget that audiences sometimes just want a bit of a laugh. It’s surprisingly cathartic to whoop at a guy bouncing around on a tiny bike.
The Wonderground is not the bleeding edge future of performance. But it is enjoyable, an oasis of uncomplicated good vibes in our summer of uncertainty.
|Venue name:||London Wonderground|