Immersive theatre is new to me I was therefore very excited to rummage around my wardrobe creating an 1840’s costume looking like a cross between ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Drucilla’ from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (niche reference I know).
I was eager to meet ‘The Swell Mob’ described on the press release as ‘an explosive immersive theatrical experience, as dark as it is fun.’ On arrival you are ushered into a glowing, gothic, vaudeville world of troubled characters, most of which are either lost in their own heads or determined to invade your personal space and steal your drink! So that’s the dark part covered then.
The first set piece was ill timed with the audience so keen to get a drink at the very small bar, they missed the vaudeville ditty we were encouraged to learn and sing along with, resulting in a rendition reminiscent of a school assembly. This emerged as a theme as none of the ideas felt fully realised but rather started and abandoned.
The audience participation element was hit and miss throughout as not all of us were given a task to complete and therefore left to amuse ourselves, this could have been resolved by establishing the rules of the world that we were in and the role of the audience at the start of the show perhaps?
However, committed performances were delivered by all the performers and there were some lovely moments of physical work in the boxing set piece.
Visually the experience was faultless creating an atmosphere of intrigue, gothic beauty and horror. The lighting and sound also deserve notable mentions as they were vital ingredients to the sense of time and place that were delivered excellently. However, the visuals promised what the action did not deliver, as there was a lack of content, jeopardy or drama.
The piece will no doubt evolve, and needless to say immersive theatre is a subjective experience, however, more content would have helped to give a richer audience experience and some lighter moments would really add to the show, as the most fun I had was picking out my costume!
Running Thursday – Sunday from 4th May until 25th August at 7:00pm (Thursday to Sunday) and 8:45pm (Thursday to Saturday).
Booking details can be found here