Storytelling – the simple kind where a small group of people sit in the dark and simply share wild and wonderful tales – is an inherent part of being human. In this instance, combining this instinct with improvisation, and audience interaction results in a story following a group of friends trying to find their way out of a plane crash. The audience is the group of friends, and Joe Strickland quietly narrates the set-up. Soon, Strickland introduces a chose-your-own-adventure type of moment that leads to many more. The concept is fun and the audience enthusiastically engages, but the execution raises questions about audience autonomy and the limits of improv.
It’s a wonder that Sleeping Trees have managed to put on a show for kids. Their adult productions are cheeky, provocative, silly and inappropriate but in Sleeping Beauty and the Beast they bring the fun for kids and adults alike in this partially improvised twist on two children’s classics.
“Today you can get rid of your fear”, Strangers Like Me Collective promises. As the audience arrives at Fears Eat Life, premiering at the Voila! Europe Festival, they find a sheet of paper on each seat inviting them to write down what they’re most afraid of and throw it on stage. And so, this interactive cabaret show, written and directed by Timna Krenn, begins before the lights go down. To throw one’s fears away to the power of theatrical catharsis seems meaningful enough, and the prospect of having performers enacting them back to us in a dark comedy improv seems like something to look forward to.
A brand new venue has opened up in West London, the Wonderground Earls Court, from ubiquitous producers the Udderbelly. With a fairground, beach, bars and an upside down purple cow as a venue space, it is certainly an interesting and different place to see a show.
Standing in a storage container at the top of Leake Street, mud squishing beneath my trainers, I hear a man softly singing. This is it, I think, this is how I am going to die, trying to tunnel my way out onto the streets of Waterloo. A second man appears from the corner and started up a dialogue. I am immediately relieved; I would not be doing any digging.
This is certainly something different to the majority of the festival’s shows: rather than a traditional show, it is a scavenger hunt/immersive promenade show, put on by establishedcompany Fire Hazard games. Based on the famous Robert Louis Stevenson story and pop culture icon, this show puts you and your smartphone in a quest to find out what is behind your missing memories from the night before. You can enjoy it solo, or in a group up to 3 people, but it certainly requires a lot of walking, and decent weather certainly helps.
Oily Cart makes gently immersive, highly sensory performances for people under five years old, and people with complex needs. This winter-themed touring show for little ones takes them into a world of colourful lights, dark shadows and sparkly parcels that reveal an array of treasure, from reams of bubble wrap, to coloured lights to a magnificent puppet constructed out of cellophane. As lights dim and glow amidst the white drapes and shimmering cushions, children are invited to explore the tactile, etherial landscape that evokes the the wonder of unwrapping presents on a snowy Christmas morning.
Transporting audiences back to 1979, when Britain was on the brink of political collapse for the second time in a decade, Parabolic Theatre’s disconcertingly timely immersive live-action board game Crisis? What Crisis? is a thrilling opportunity to put yourself in the driving seat of power.
There’s a growing trend for immersive experiences. In a world of AI and 3D printing, we don’t just want to see and hear our entertainment – we want to touch and taste it as well. Much like the thrills children crave at a fun fair, our expectation is that we will get a huge burst of adrenaline as we fully experience something unique.