Last Friday I got dressed up, drank champagne, ate ice cream and explored the gloriously odd world of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I did in my living with with 1000s of people from around the world thanks to Secret Sofa.
Secret Sofa is a new branch of the highly acclaimed Secret Cinema. It is obviously slightly different as you cannot possibly get the same level of interactivity without the incredible amount of work that goes into the standard Secret Cinema experience, but this is all about what you make it and if you put in some effort, it is blooming brilliant.
The premise is this:
Every Tuesday you receive an email telling us what the next film is. You are given some activities and instructions which we can choose to do, or not, it is up to you. You find a place to stream the film and then on Friday night, the community gathers on Facebook. Announcements are made throughout the afternoon/early evening. This week that included a fabulous Spotify playlist to get us in the mood. 15 minutes before you start the film, a member of Secret Sofa immerses you in the world of that film. This week it was the Lobby boy, Henrik. ( Kieran Mortell). He welcomed the guests, told us of the happenings in the hotel, promised to hold any sordid secrets until his death, and taught us to waltz.
Do you enjoy luxury and decadence? Are you Rich, old, insecure, vain, superficial, needy and liberally perfumed? Well The Grand Budapest Hotel is the place for you, and this Friday you get to escape lockdown and head there with many 1000s of other new clientele.
This might be one of the most exciting things I have seen for a while!
Secret Cinema, have been helping fans since 2008 to immerse themselves in their favourite imaginary worlds for real. Stranger Things, Dirty Dancing, Back to the Future, Blade Runner and many more have been tackled by them so far and now they are creating a weekly Secret Sofa for us to enjoy from our homes.
It is time to escape this madness and join 1000s of other households (potentially from all over the world) and immerse ourselves in the Secret Sofa world.
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.
Gingerline’s The Grand Expedition certainly lives up to its name. An innovative and fully immersive dining experience that is quirky, action packed and offers something for everyone.
Set slightly off the beaten track (but still on the Victoria Line) the location remains a secret until late in the day, retaining an element of the unknown right up until the last minute. Once inside the venue, you would never have known you were actually inside a warehouse as it was a fantastic use of the space. Every inch of it was decorated in keeping with the aeronautical theme and the action took place from the moment we stepped through the door! Seated in clusters on tables designed to imitate hot air balloons, the edible journey begins with an animation projected onto an impressive 360° screen that surrounds you. Instantly you find yourself amongst the clouds and a natural conversation starter between fellow diners opens up as you anticipate where the first destination will be. This is continued for all five courses and never disappoints.
On the 19th June I am off to see Whilst at the Lilian Baylis Studio. This production is described as an experience which merges physical theatre, interactive Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and an art installation, in an environment that blurs the boundaries between consciousness and unconsciousness, reality and fiction, the physical and the virtual, exploring the story from one of the 76 different perspectives.
I work in technology so when I heard AR and VR mixed with immersive theatre and what appears to be a make your own adventure book – I had to find out more.
I interviewed Aoi Nakamura and Esteban Fourmi, the founders of AΦE and the creators of the show.
It’s December 1940 and a Nazi invasion force has landed on the south coast of England.
For King & Country offers audiences a chance to immerse themselves in this gaming style
experience where decisions taken in the bunker will shape the course of history!
Reinventing the wheel of immersive theatre, Parabolic Theatre present an escape room-like experience with a high level of interaction where the audience determines the direction and flow of the story.
Before we attend, we got the chance to speak to the Director, Owen Kingston, about what we should expect
There’s always a certain amount of trepidation when one takes a four-year-old to the theatre. A darkened room filled with strangers is not their usual environment. This means there is always a considerable risk that you will be the parent dragging a fractious, bored, crying pre-schooler across everyone’s eye line to prevent them spoiling the show for those with better-behaved children. So it was with these nagging concerns that my four-year-old daughter and I set out on a beautiful, warm sunny April afternoon to go and see Fusion Theatre’s Stories from Around the World at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre.
Having launched on 27th March, An Evening of Meat is a unique and provocative dining experience about femininity, vulnerability, strength, stability, sensuality, power, and unbridled wildness which fuses expressive dance and indulgent dining to create and evening like nothing else. American director Kate March’s all-female creative collective use the tables as a stage while the audience eats. The show is designed to shock all of your senses, as evocative music fills your ears, an amazing 6-course meal caresses your taste buds and the audience watch the cast perform their exquisitely sensual, acrobatic dance.
As the audience enters the dining room, they are greeted by 4 scantily clad women ( beautifully designed by Lisa Von Tang) seemingly asleep on the trestle tables. As the music begins, the women begin to perform a mixture of raw improvised dance and interactions with the audience alongside seriously strong and powerful choreographed pieces.
40 Winks is a unique place. Described as the most beautiful hotel in the world, a place where you are treated not as a paying guest, but as a new friend, a place where you will be enchanted by the sheer beauty of the house and its unique ambiance, somewhere with a dreamy fairytale quality which offers a welcome respite from the harsh realities of everyday life. Owned by Mr Carter – frequently lauded as one of the world’s most influential interior designers by magazines like Architectural Digest, twice shortlisted for the International Interior Designer of the Year Award, the Economist’s Intelligent Life called him an ‘elegant sliver of fin-de-siecle aestheticism’ – this place has a lot to live up to and I cannot wait to experience it for myself in their May event.
Previous events organised by Mr Carter have been some of the most highly acclaimed events in London, including extravagant and theatrical life drawing evenings, parties like ‘Tart’ and ‘Coquette’ (spoiling afternoons of naughty self- indulgence, seductive style and decadent pampering for girls), the famous ‘Jacques Townhouse’ (London’s first pop-up hotel), and the inaugural meeting of the ‘Champagne Charlie Society’. There has also been a magical ‘Bedtime Story Nights’ and the newest event, ‘Supernatural’.
And May’s event sees the very witty Viv Groskop performing. Viv is a journalist, writer, occasional agony aunt and comedian. She is the star of BBC1’s This Week and BBC Radio 4’s It’s Just a Joke, Comrade. VIVALICIOUS is a brand new show that will be officially launched at the Edinburgh Festival, but 40 Winks have managed to lure her hre for a special preview date. In an age of therapy and reinvention, Viv humorously explores how we all want to become the very best versions of ourselves, and frequently fail despite our most determined efforts. I have been told to expect enlightenment and lots and lots of laughter.
You don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to come, but you do need to book a ticket in advance. If you would like to attend one of the upcoming events (which often sell out within hours) receive a copy of the latest programme or join their exclusive mailing list, please email Daisy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the form.
Apparently I have to dress in my most glamorous boudoir attire but I expect it will be worth it to go and drink “intoxicating cocktails with London’s brightest and boldest, and find myself carried off on a delirious journey by some of this country’s most revered storytellers, mind-bending illusionists, comedians and topnotch (but tiny) theatre companies?”
Tickets: £30 per head (includes MAMAlicious Vodka cocktails and yummy nibbles)
#Tweetingit: 4**** ImmerCity wring every drop of suspense from their unusual venue with great performances
Directed and produced by Rosanna Mallinson, ImmerCity’s immersive theatre experience takes place in the industrially foreboding setting of the London Museum of Water and Steam. Armed with nothing but torches and coats, groups of six are set loose in the museum to watch arguments, interview suspects and hopefully, with a bit of luck, crack the case of the unfortunate death of a young boy, long ago in a Victorian pumphouse.
The evening begins with an introduction from our host, Jack Daw (played with great enthusiasm by Ben Hale), a paranormal investigator apparently hired by the museum to investigate the unusual noises heard recently around one particular machine. As is standard paranormal procedure, he has recruited the audience members to help him with this, and like the good host he is he starts by providing a Victorian High Tea.