Archive | January, 2015

Grimm Tales at the Bargehouse – immersive theatre experience number 2

29 Jan

The other weekend, I was lucky enough to go to the Grimms Fairy Tale experience at the Oxo Tower for an ‘immersive theatre’ experience.  The experience was advertised for adults and children alike, and I was excited to go as I’ve always been fascinated with the darkness of fairy tales.  Even as a child I remember being both horrified and amazed by the idea that Hansel and Gretel’s father could be so easily manipulated and leave his own children to die.  In many ways, fairy tales provided me and countless numbers of other children with their first exposure of the concepts of evil and goodness.

Grimms_3123740b

The experience consisted of us watching five fairy tales (there are a total of seven so it’s dependent on the day which ones you get to see) and watching these back to back definitely cemented in my mind the fact that some fairy tales are clearly superior to others.  The first few I watched included ‘The Princess and the Frog’ and while they were entertaining, they didn’t grip me and I found myself losing concentration.  This could have been because the setup consisted of us being herded to different rooms by a couple of actors and the problem was that all of these rooms had fewer seats than people, so once this fact was recognised, it became a strange race for theatregoers to get a seat for the play.  Each fairy tale was around twenty to thirty minutes long so standing up for that time, craning your head to try and see the action was rather uncomfortable.

The acting in itself was fine, and actors were often very inventive with props.  They tried to keep it faithful to the storytelling nature of the fairy tale by adding the appropriate ‘he said’/ ‘she said’ after every piece of dialogue.  While I initially thought this gave the plays a certain lyrical rhythm, I found it became quite jarring after a while and actually broke the audience’s concentration as it kept the audience at a distance, preventing them from getting too involved.  My favourite play was probably ‘Faithful Johannes’, a German fairy tale which covers themes of loyalty, faith and fate.  I particularly enjoyed the inventive use of props – for example, the intricate raven masks and cloaks and the wooden puppets representing the king and queen’s twin sons which effectively conveyed the mystical, mythical elements of the fairy tale.

In conclusion, it was fun but it wasn’t completely convincing; given the price of these immersive-theatre experience tickets (albeit mine was a lovely gift), I suppose I enter these things with ridiculously high expectations as I did when I went to see Punchdrunk.  Many times, I found myself concentrating on wanting to sit down more than on the fairy tale being acted out before me, which suggests I wasn’t fully immersed but regardless, I still had a lovely time and it was an entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon.