8AM – 8PM
9AM – 7PM
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Immersive theatre has been around for a few decades now and it’s popularity is at an all-time high, and why wouldn’t it be? There is a time for watching The Bard or catching a West End show, and then there is a time to become part of the show. Of course, when we refer to immersive theatre in London, we’re talking about being immersed in the action, engaging with performers, and truly losing yourself in the magic.
A great experience genuinely involves the audience and combines beautiful sets, wonderful music, live acting and often elements of virtual reality. London is blessed with some of the best immersive theatre experiences, so we thought we would share some of our personal favourites from across the capital.
(8-12 Tower Hill. Nearest Tube – Tower Hill)
Let’s begin with one of the longest-running and most iconic immersive theatre experiences in London, The Gunpowder Plot. A historically important moment in history is brought to life through the use of live actors, impressive sets and clever use of virtual reality.
This 100-minute immersive experience from the Tower of London also ticks that critical box of audience participation, as 16 guests (playing the part of newly imprisoned Catholics) are given choices to make throughout the show, giving the illusion that maybe they might eventually blow up parliament, even if we all know this won’t happen.
Perhaps the show’s highlight, certainly of the VR experiences, is when you take a virtual zip wire out of the Tower and head over the streets of London and the River Thames. It might be preposterous but a little fantasy is what immersive theatre is all about!
(Camden Garrison. Nearest Tube – Camden Town)
From the longest-running show to a newbie, based around one of the most popular TV shows of the last few years, Peaky Blinders. For fans of the show, this is a must-see experience but even for those not enchanted by the world of The Shelby gang, there is plenty to make this an entertaining evening.
The set is immaculate, a perfect recreation of the show and The Camden Garrison is an ideal setting for this production, with the stables providing the perfect spot for the multitude of side scenes that are going on around you. You will be handed a wad of cash on arrival and this enables you to truly get involved, betting, bribing and getting involved in the gangs business.
The score is a big asset to the show’s momentum; when you combine that with moving between bars and pubs, you can quickly find the time disappear. The biggest compliment we can pay Peaky Blinders is that if we go again tomorrow, we suspect our experience will be different from today – a very good statement to make about immersive theatre.
(56 Leadenhall Street. Nearest Tube – Aldgate)
There is much to recommend about our next immersive experience, from the amazing score and set designs to the smart use of VR and slick acting. The War of the Worlds requires its audience to be active throughout, as we journey through 24 different scenes via tunnels, climbing through windows and a ride in a hot air balloon.
Inspired by Jeff Wayne’s seminal 70’s prog sci-fi adaptation of the original H.G.Wells novel, this immersive theatre experience certainly relies on humour as much as its ability to scare the audience (and it definitely achieves the latter) and whilst the virtual reality scenes are kept to a reasonable level, the boat ride through Martian-ravaged London on the River Thames is an experience we won’t forget in a hurry.
(1 Cartridge Place. Nearest Tube – Woolwich)
If you are a fan of immersive theatre, then the legends at Punchdrunk will be very familiar to you. If you are new to the genre, then you’ll soon realise why they are still seen as masters of the art form in London, with their latest and biggest experience, The Burnt City.
Their latest production is based around the Trojan War, spreading across two massive locations in Woolwich (former arsenal buildings), one representing Troy and the other Greece. As with all Punchdrunk productions, the audience is encouraged to move around the different scenes and you’ll soon discover many of them are happening concurrently. By giving you the choice of where to head, it makes each person’s experience truly unique.
The sets are truly spectacular, the dancers incredibly athletic and the score takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s been eight years since their last production and they have gone all out to take things to another level of immersive entertainment.
From the company that has been bringing you masterpieces like ‘Sleep No More’ and ‘Masque of the Red Death’ since they started in 2000, it is a sign of how good this latest production is, that it might ultimately be considered their best work so far.
(Launcelot Street. Nearest Tube – Waterloo)
London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts – don’t take our word for it, it says it right across the top of their website!
We had to end with the immersive theatre that’s right on our doorstep. Head out of The Sidings and just a short walk from Leake Street you’ll find a theatre that is dedicated to immersive entertainment. They have a rotating cast of shows guaranteed to be quirky and audience friendly.
Over the last couple of years, if you’d made your way to The Vaults you would have seen Peter Pan’s Labyrinth, The Witches of Oz and Mulan Rouge. Right now, you’ll find the comedy based on the hit Netflix show, Stranger Sings. It’s an entertaining affair that engages the audience and takes them on a fun ride.
So there we go, five amazing nights out. But don’t stop there, as we happen to know that a new, secret immersive theatre experience will be launching later this summer. If you follow us on social media or sign up to get regular updates on everything new happening in The Sidings, you’ll be the first to hear about this new production.
But we’ve probably said too much already, just keep your eyes peeled and all will be revealed soon…
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