Category Archives: Theatre

Numbered Days review: An intense and emotional romance for the modern-age

Numbered Days © Brian Sayle Photgraphy

Numbered Days is a modern-age romance for the digital age
© Brian Sayle Photgraphy

Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Numbered Days is a new award-winning play from Ryan Leder in his professional playwriting debut. The touring production, which ended its current run at Bromley on 20 April, is an intimate and intense modern romance about two young women struggling with their long-distance love.

Upon entering the theatre, the audience is immediately brought into the action. Oncology student Rebecca (Georgie Cunningham) is anxiously hanging around her bedroom, obviously waiting for someone or something, as we sit down and wait for the lights to dim. The front row is just inches away from Rebecca’s bed, bringing the audience in an awkwardly close intimacy with the main character’s private life.

Rebecca is in a long-distance, transatlantic romance with Irish student Charlotte (Joy Carleton), who has abandoned the Emerald Isle to live Stateside. It soon becomes apparent the pair have never met in person, but have been getting to know each other emotionally and sexually over Skype for some time. Despite their familiarity with each other, there are moments where it’s clear the pair still have a lot to learn about each other. Carefree and confident Charlotte sometimes struggles with Rebecca’s reluctance and insecurity and the looming, never-seen spectre of an over-bearing mother.

Most of the action takes place in Rebecca’s bedroom, with Charlotte projected on a mounted flat-screen television as the couple’s relationship progresses through video calls. There are quiet moments where the action slows and Rebecca is left alone in her thoughts, which really demonstrates the isolation and reality of living so far away from your partner. The scene changes were cleverly accompanied by voiceovers of real-life long-distance lovers talking about their experiences.

Leder’s engaging script really conveyed the intensity and uncertainty of long-distance romance. Cunningham and Carleton put on strong performances and gave honest and realistic portrayals of an inexperienced and awkward burgeoning couple. Despite being a story about a same-sex relationship, their sexuality isn’t the focus of the story and their rollercoaster journey reflects many young relationship experiences. Having had a long-distance relationship myself in the past, I certainly recognised the difficult dynamics of rarely seeing your lover. Cunningham’s emotional speech at the climax of the show really rode home the heart-breaking difficulties of the process. Although I didn’t hold out much hope for Charlotte and Rebecca as a long-term couple, there’s no denying their partnership would be an important and life-changing emotional landmark for the characters whatever the future may hold.

  • The Spring tour for Numbered Days is now finished. Follow Theatre In Black on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with their future productions.

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Somnai review: A surreal night in an immersive and virtual reality experience

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Somnai is an immersive virtual reality experience

Anyone who read my blog often or follows my Instagram account has probably worked out I’m a fan of immersive theatre and experiences. The word has become somewhat of a buzzword in the events industry in recent years and I’ve had a range of brilliant to mediocre ‘immersive’ experiences. However, the recent resurgence in popularity of virtual reality (VR) technology, means this type of production can utilise another platform to expand their scope. Recently, a group of friends and I went along to Somnai, which has been described by its makers dotdotdot as a ‘live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies’.

Somnai © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Each ‘patient’ is given an ID bracelet

Checking out the website ahead of its March launch, there were little clues on what a Somnai session would be like. The event is marketed as a type of sleep clinic, with the chilling warning ‘may cause acute death’. Now, of course, this warning cannot be taken literally, but speaking in past tense, it certainly gets your heart racing at points. Somnai is located in a large, unassuming warehouse in Clerkenwell. You are advised to avoid alcohol beforehand so my five sober friends and I arrived in the clinical white reception, slightly apprehensive about what lay ahead. We were ‘checked in’ to the clinic, as we handed in our bags and coats and were given a Fitbit, a dressing gown and padded sleep socks. One by one, we were taken into a small room, where silent assistants scanned our faces with 3D mapping, which all felt rather Black Mirror.

We started our experience in our group of six, meeting our sleep guide, an ethereal and spiritual woman who eased us into the experience with a few probing questions about our dreams (e.g. if you could fly anywhere, where would you go? What motivates you?). We start by winding down and relaxing with a bedtime story as we lie on a giant teddy bear, before zooming through the galaxy under a planetarium-style sky.

The main phase of Somnai is putting on our ‘sleep masks’ – our virtual reality masks – and beginning our VR journey. I haven’t tried virtual reality since its infancy in the 1990s and it’s certainly come on since then (and I would hope so too!). We moved through various surreal landscapes, from underwater kingdoms to grand canyons. Despite a part of my brain not knowing this was real, I found it quite unsettling to step off the side of a cliff or ledge, which was the process to changing ‘worlds’ or ‘zones’. In addition to what we were seeing, we could use our senses by touching, such as feeling the wooden plank ‘drawbridge’ we were crossing under my feet, or stroking the furry plant life in the ocean world. The whole VR experience was amazing and disorienting at the same time. Discussing it afterwards, I realised I had been quite fearful during it and had perhaps become too immersed in these bizarre environments we thought we were in.

Somnai © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Ready to sleep? The experience has been styled as a visit to a sleep clinic

Following the VR walkabout, our group was separated and two of us ended up in a very strange and spooky set of rooms. Without giving too much away, we were given a choice, ultimately made the wrong one, and ended our Somnai journey with a particularly scary 2nd session with the VR cameras. For this, our friends and I were reunited in a white hospital ward with masked attendants guiding us to lie in bed and putting on our ‘sleep masks’. I felt like we were in an asylum in a horror film. For the two of us who made the wrong choice, what we saw in the VR was rather unsettling and sent our heart rates up.

Finally, we all ended up in the digital bar, which is constantly evolving with different phases, each with a matching cocktail menu. If you download their app, your cocktail should do strange things when you scan it. With the app, we were able to check our heart rate throughout the process and see a quite horrifying (in my case!) 3D scan of my head. Overall, it was interestingly weird and enjoyable. The plot wasn’t quite coherent, but the mix of senses, VR sights and the cast provided a new and thought-provoking experience. Our group had much to discuss in the cocktail bar afterwards as we discussed our different experiences and interpreted meaning from the various surreal levels. If you’re intrigued about virtual reality, I recommend checking it out while it’s still on.

  • Somnai, 2 Pear Tree Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3SB. Nearest station: Farringdon or Old Street. Tickets: From £35 (discount for groups of six). On now until 30 June 2018. For booking, visit the Somnai website.

For a guide to what else is on in May, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in May 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Canalway Cavalcade returns to Little Venic

It’s May – whoopee! It means two Bank Holidays, a royal wedding (although not in London), longer days, warmer weather and we’re in touching distance of summer. With spring in full swing, more events and festivals are taking place alfresco. Film fans will find plenty of movie offerings, while there’s many art exhibitions on for those seeking some culture. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best of London’s events on in May.

For a guide to London’s outdoor and pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.

  • 1 – 7 May : Sci-Fi London Film Festival

The 18th annual celebration of the sci-fi genre, featuring premieres, talks and screenings. At BFI Southbank, Stratford Picturehouse, Rich Mix, The Trampery, JuJu’s Bar & Stage, EXP, Science Museum IMAX, and the Moth Club. For more information, visit the Sci-London Film Festival website.

  • 1 May – 1 June : Herne Hill Free Film Festival

Month-long free celebration of film, featuring screenings, workshops, competitions, short films, live music around Herne Hill. Movies include Get Out, Paddington 2, Coco, Loving Vincent, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and more. At venues around SE24, including Prince Regent pub, Effraspace, Lido Café, Half Moon pub, The Florence and more. For more information, visit the Free Film Festivals site.

  • 3 May – 31 August : Neverland London

Head to the river for Fulham’s beach club. Includes Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club pop up restaurant, two bars, live DJs, bottomless brunches, games and activities, including yoga and cocktail masterclasses. Open Wed-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-8pm. Entry from £5. Neverland London, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Neverland London website.

  • 3 May – mid September : Skylight

Rooftop bar Skylight London returns to Wapping with city views, cocktails, street food, lawn games, World Cup and Wimbledon screenings and more. Open Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm. Free entry. Croquet: Indoor £25, Outdoor £35 (45 min game), Petanque: £15 (2-4 players). Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For more information, visit the Skylight London website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • 3 May – September : Rooftop Film Club

Pop-up cinema returns to rooftops across the capital, screening new and classic films. Venues include Bussey Building (Peckham), Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch) and Roof East (Stratford). Tickets start from £14/95/£15.96 (includes seating and wireless headphones). For more information and tickets, visit Rooftop Film Club website.

  • 4 – 6 May : Be: Fit London

The UK’s health and fitness festival for women is back for its fifth year, featuring classes, talks, cooking demos, workshops and shopping village. Tickets start from £18. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Be: Fit London website.

  • 4 – 7 May : Alchemy Festival

A festival of music, dance, film, literature, theatre and performance from India, the UK and South Asia, featuring Aakash Odedra, Luke Sital-Singh, The Ska Vengers, Talvin Singh, Tez Ilyas and much more. Prices vary, with some activities free. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 4 – 20 May : Wandsworth Arts Fringe

Two week fringe festival in the borough of Wandsworth featuring over 180 events, including theatre, dance, art, music, comedy, poetry, workshops, talks, markets and more. Highlights include Pump House Gallery Pavilion, National Opera Studio Magic Wandsworth, Wes Barker, Swing Patrol and much more. For more information, visit the Wandsworth Arts Fringe website.

  • 5 May : The Tweed Run

The 10th annual bicycle ride sees participants dressing up in vintage tweed and cycling past London’s landmarks. Starting in a secret location yet to be revealed and going for 10 miles, before ending for the Closing Ceremony (4-9pm) in Spa Fields, Clerkenwell, EC1. Rider tickets are sold out, but spectators can watch for free. Nearest station: Angel or Farringdon. For more information, visit The Tweed Run website.

  • 5 May : Cycle Revolution

Cycling festival returns to Clerkenwell to coincide with the Tweed Run. Featuring demos, street food, vinyl DJs, workshops, stalls and cocktails from Bourne & Hollingsworth. 12pm-8pm. Free entry. Spa Fields, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HU. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel. For more information, visit the Cycle Revolution website.

  • 5 May : Day Of Dance

The Westminster Morris Men and Morris Dance teams from across the country will gather in Trafalgar Square for a day of dancing. 2pm-5pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • 5 May : Cinco de Mayo with Cahoots and Cointreau

Underground drinking den Cahoots is teaming up with Cointreau to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Special drinks have been created for the evening, such as You’’ll Never Smile Again, 1948 In The Big Smoke, and Seventy Years Of Cheers. From 5pm. Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PG. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information or to book a table, visit the Cahoots website. Read Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots.

  • 5 – 7 May : Canalway Cavalcade

A unique waterways and community festival at Little Venice. Features stalls, bands, kids’ activities, Morris dancers, a Real Ale bar, food and pageant of boats. Open Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, Mon 10am-5pm. Procession of illuminated boats @ 9pm on Sun. Free. Little Venice, Maida Vale, W2. Nearest station: Warwick Avenue. For more information, visit the Inland Waterways Association. For Metro Girl’s blog post on a previous year’s Cavalcade, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Head to the Country Show at Morden Hall Park

  • 5 – 7 May : Morden Hall Park Country Show

Country show in the grounds of Morden Hall, featuring Savage Bike Skills Display Team, birds of prey flying displays, Grant Bazin the Horse Whisperer, terrier racing, children’s entertainer, Circus Skills Workshop, the goat show including bottle feeding lambs and kids, children’s petting pens, historical re-enactment and more. 10am-5pm. Tickets on the gate (or cheaper online): Adults £7.50, Children age 5-18 £5, Under 5s free. Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden or Phipps Bridge (tram). For more information, visit the Oakleigh Fairs website. For Metro Girl’s post on Morden Hall Park, click here.

  • 5 – 13 May : Grand Designs Live

Based on the Channel 4 TV series, the show features ideas and inspiration for your own grand design, including workshops, consultations, lectures and celebrity guests. Tickets: Weekday £12, Weekend £15. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent (DLR). For more information and tickets, visit the Grand Designs Live websiteRead the rest of this entry

Go wild in Neverland for NTV Spring Break

Do you remember the wild and debauched MTV Spring Break footage in the late ’90s? This Spring, you will have the option to throw caution to the wind and party like it’s 1998 in an immersive adult playground inspired by JM Barrie’s Neverland. Over 19-21 April 2018, Park Village Studios in Regents Park will be transformed for NTV Spring Park, a multi-layered event combining food, drink and partying. Expect to see a reimagining of Peter Pan’s lost land, including hipster Lost Boys, geezer Pirates, a trustafarian Tiger Lily, a tattooed Tinkerbell and a gangsta rapping Croc.

Guests are invited to start their journey in the relative calm of the Darlings’ home, where they will be offered a drink by George and Mary Darling – parents of Wendy, John and Michael. It isn’t long, before revellers move into Neverland, where they have an array of options to choose from. For those feeling a bit peckish, the Lost Boys are hosting their street food collective, featuring a range of world foods, including fish tacos, hot’n’sour wings, brioche three-cheese toasties, dulce de leche churros, among many other treats.

If you’re ready for it, head to Tinkerbell’s Bar, an Austin-style dive bar with rockabilly memorabilia, neon signs, and thrash metal, serving Fukk’n Intense Dark’n’Stormies cocktails. Nearby is Crock’s Territory, home to hip-hop legend Croc, the unofficial king of Neverland. Check him out as he films his latest music video with his dancers and b-boys sipping malt liquor. When you want to take things up a notch, head to Neverland Camp, where zenned out Tiger Lily and her new age pals Sebastian, Ziggy et al hang out by the campfire. This chill out zone offers arts and crafts workshops, massages, guru sessions and Jarr Kombucha cocktails. Meanwhile, Jimmy ‘Ook and his pirates are hiding out in a hidden East London gangster den, where they will challenge guests to a game of red/black/high/low in the hope of winning some perks.

Finally, the night climaxes with the NTV Dance Off, where the gangs come face-to-face and show off their moves. Once the winner is crowned, guests are welcome to party to the sounds of DJ Seldom Cinq and his hype man Ya Boi JC. The event is the long-awaited return from Shuttlecock Inc, famous for their previous immersive productions Mile High, Rumble at the Deli and The Blue Lotus Opium Den.

  • Shuttlecock Inc Presents NTV Spring Break is on from 19-21 April 2018. At Park Village Studios, Park Village East, Regents Park, NW1 7PX. Nearest station: Mornington Crescent. Tickets: Standard £40pp (early bird £35pp), includes entry, 1x cocktail, 2x street food tokens and all the entertainment. VIP £65pp, includes access all areas pass, min. 4x cocktails, 4x street food tokens and all the entertainment. For tickets, visit the Shuttlecock website.
NTV Spring Break

The Lost Boys will be serving up some street food

To find out what else is on in April in London, click here.

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Neverland at Vault Festival review: An immersive journey through mirth and misfortune

© S R Taylor Photography

Peter Llewelyn Davies (Michal Ish-Horowicz) takes flight in Neverland at The Vaults
© S R Taylor Photography

One of the headline shows at this year’s Vault Festival is Neverland, an immersive theatre musical experience. Following its successful debut in Sheffield last year, the production has an eight-week run at the atmospheric tunnels below Waterloo station. The show is from The Guild of Misrule, the company behind the hit Great Gatsby Musical from last year’s festival. Arriving at The Vaults from the Leake Street tunnel, you follow the neon lights to reach Neverland at the end. As with many immersive theatre productions, you need to let down your guard and embrace the madness, preparing to take on a character or revert to childhood. For Neverland, be prepared to do both.

Upon entering, audience members are greeted by some of the Lost Boys and the Llewelyn Davies family, who quiz you with childlike wonder with innocent questions and Edwardian references. My friend, who works online, completely confused Michael Llewelyn Davies (Casey Jay Andrews) by trying to explain the internet and Google. The premise is the story of author JM Barrie’s (Dominic Allen) relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family, who inspired the characters of Peter Pan. There are many elements of the Pan storyline interwoven with how Barrie came up with the plot as we jump from Edwardian Kensington to Neverland to WWI.  Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in February 2018

China Town London

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown
© Chinatown London

Wow, January flew by and 2018 is really getting moving. The days are getting longer, although the weather may not necessarily be getting better. St Valentine’s Day is bang in the middle of the month to give us a warm, fuzzy glow… or perhaps reaching for the nearest sick bag if you’re not one for romance! There is also the half-term holidays so parents will be looking for ways to entertain the kids.

For a guide to Valentine’s events in the capital for both couples and singles, click here.

  • 1 – 4 FebruaryDestinations – The Holiday & Travel Show

Presented by The Times, the Holiday and Travel show is full of inspiration for your next adventure or holiday. As well as lots of travel companies, there are photography masterclasses, health advice and meet the experts. Open 10am-5.30pm. Tickets: £11 in advance. Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Destinations – Holiday & Travel Show website.

  • 1 February until 24 March : Winterland

Pop-up winter experience returns to West London, featuring winter lodges,  riverside igloos, curling, mini golf, karaoke booth, Prosecco pong, Jimmy Garcia’s fondue, hot toddies, wood-fired pizzas, two bars, heated pergola and more. Open Thur-Fri: 6pm-11pm, Sat: 2pm-11pm. Entry from £5. Winterland, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Winterland website.

  • Now until 1 February : Food Film Festival 2018

The British Food Museum launches a new film festival that recognises the part that food and drink play on-screen. Produced by Bompas & Parr, the festival features screenings, themed culinary talks, workshops and events. 6pm-11pm. Tickets: £14. The Curzon, Mondrian Hotel, Upper Ground, SE1 9PD. Nearest station: Blackfriars. For more information and tickets, visit the Bompas & Parr website.

  • 2 – 3 FebruaryLondon Remixed Festival

A two-day celebration of emerging talents from the worlds of Latin Grooves, Afro beats, Tropical Bass, Vintage-Remix, Desert Remix Balkan Beats, Urban Roots, Acoustic Soundclash and Brass Band Remix and more. Open: Fri 8pm-1am, Sat 8pm-4am. Tickets: £7-£15. Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Old Street. For tickets, visit the London Remixed Festival website. Find out more on Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s festival.

  • 2 – 3 February : Hip Hop Karaoke & DJ Rob Pursey Payday Party @ Tate Modern

Late-night event at the Tate Modern, inviting guests to show off their rapping skills and enjoy the craft beer from the Brooklyn Brewery. 6.30pm-11pm. Tickets: £9.50. Level 1 Bar, Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG. Nearest station: Blackfriars. For booking, visit the Tate Modern website.

  • Now until 3 February : London International Mime Festival

Festival at various events across London including performances of physical theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and live art. Workshops also available. Tickets range from £9-29. Venues include the Barbican, Jacksons Lane, Platform Theatre, The Little Angel Theatre, Soho Theatre, Shoreditch Town Hall and The Peacock. For more information, visit the London International Mime Festival website.

  • 4 February : Jasmine Hemsley’s East By West Brunch

Jasmine Hemsley will be marking the launch of her new book by curating a soulful brunch alongside Aster’s Executive Chef Helena Puolakka. Feast on a four-course brunch while listening to an exclusive talk by Jasmine and a signed copy of her book East By West to take home. 11am-3pm. Tickets: £35. Aster, 150 Victoria Street, Westminster, SW1E 5LB. Nearest station: Victoria. For booking, visit D&D London.

  • Now until 4 February : Take A View exhibition

Exhibition of the winning and shortlisted images from this year’s Landscape Photographer Of The Year are on display on the balcony at Waterloo station. Open during station hours. Free. Mezzanine level, Waterloo Station, SE1 8SW. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Take A View website.

  • 7 – 11 February : Ealing Music and Film Festival

Five day festival in Ealing featuring musical performances, film screenings and walks. Events take place at various venues, including St Mary’s Church in South Ealing, University Of West London, Ealing Club Red Room, St Barnabas Church. Tickets range from free to £20. Nearest stations: Ealing Broadway or South Ealing. For booking, visit the Ealing Music & Film website.

  • 7 – 18 FebruaryImagine Children’s Festival

Two week children’s festival at the Southbank Centre, including art, theatre, books, music, performances and workshops. Including Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, Greg James, Chris Smith, Ben Shires, Fun DMC, Bedtime Stories and more. 10.30am-4pm daily. Many activities and events are free, but some go up to £12. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 9 February : Late At The Library – Potter After Hours

Harry Potter fans will love this late night opening of the British Library. Featuring the chance to see the Harry Potter exhibition and Potter-themed activities. 7.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets: £25, Under 18s £21. British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest stations: Kings Cross St Pancras or Euston. For booking, visit the British Library website.

  • 10 – 11 February : Vegan Life Live

Two day festival celebrating and exploring the vegan lifestyle, featuring clothing, cosmetics and food stands, talks, live music, cookery demonstrations, workshops and Q&A sessions. Open Sat 10 10am-6pm, Open Sun 11 10am-5pm. Tickets start from £12 (under 16s free). The West Hall, Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Vegan Life Live website.

© Alejandro Tamagno

London Remixed Festival returns to Rich Mix
© Alejandro Tamagno

  • 10 February – 11 MarchOrchid Festival

An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by Thailand. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: Adults £16-£19, Children (4-16yr) £4-£5. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 10 February – 28 April : Paint Pigment Photography exhibition

Exhibition inspired by the Hindu festival of Holi featuring Rob and Nick Carter’s stunning images of coloured powder captured at 1/8000th of a second. Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. Free entry. RN at 5a, 5A Bathurst Street, Connaught Village, W2 2SD. Nearest station: Paddington or Lancaster Gate. For more information, visit the Rob and Nick Carter website. Read the rest of this entry

Vault Festival 2018: Comedy, theatre and immersive experiences as London’s biggest arts festival returns

Vault Festival 2018

The Vault Festival returns to the tunnels underneath Waterloo station
© Vault Festival

Returning to the tunnels underneath Waterloo this winter is one of the country’s biggest arts festivals. Now its in sixth year, the Vault Festival features over 300 shows over eight weeks. Expect a jam-packed schedule of comedy, film, circus, musicals, theatre, immersive experiences and late-night parties. As well taking over the atmospheric and historic tunnels, the festival is also expanding to satellite venues such as Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Expect to see homegrown and international talent, with a spotlight on names to watch at the Vault New Writers Award.

One of this year’s big shows is Neverland, an immersive musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale. Guests will come face-to-face with glittering pirates, mermaids, food fights, absinthe bars and live music from a band of lost boys. If immersive experiences floats your boat, there is also Caravan, a journey through hip-hop dance, or Lamplighters, an improvised spy story in the style of John Le Carre.

If you want to be amazed, there’s plenty of mind-blowing circus acts, including the Chivaree Circus’ award-winning re-imagining of the Persephone myth, Becoming Shades. Explore hypnotism with David Aula and Simon Evans in their show The Vanishing Mankind, or be wowed by the brilliant Madhi The Magician, who was born without hands or feet. There will also be a busy comedy schedule, with Joe Lycett, Bridget Christie, Richard Gadd, Phil Wang and Adam Riches, Mat Ewins, Graham Dickson and Joe Sutherland aiming to tickle your funny bone.

The Vault Festival promises to showcase some of the best female and BAME talent, with over 52 per cent of shows written or directed by women. Fringe First winner Katie Bonna explores gender conditioning in Paper Scissors Stone, while Edinburgh hit Glitter Punch deals with student/teacher relationship boundaries. Nicole Acquah examines racism in the UK in her powerful piece For a Black Girl, while round-table discussions on gender equality will also be providing food for thought.

Among the late-night parties at the weekends, includes Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Ball, St Patrick’s Day, the South London Soul Train and the opening and closing bashes. As well as all the entertainment, there will be plenty of options to keep you fed and watered with intimate themed bars and street food stalls.

  • The Vault Festival runs from 24 January – 18 March 2018 and takes place at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN; Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, SE1 8SJ and Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, SE1 8TN. Nearest stations: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For more information and tickets, visit the Vault Festival website.

Read Metro Girl’s review of Neverland at The Vaults.

To find out what else is on in March, click here.

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Beauty And The Feast review: A fabulous and playful immersive, theatrical dinner experience

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Beauty and the Feast is a camp, high-energy and fun immersive cabaret dining experience

Arriving for Beauty and the Feast at The Vaults underneath Waterloo station, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The show had been billed as a pantomime and dinner experience, which gave a hint of things to come. I’ve been to The Vaults quite a few times and love the venue for its versatility. We entered from the Leake Street tunnel entrance and the fairy tale vibe started immediately as we walked through the ‘magic mirror’ to the bar area. The bar was like a theatre set, with a melange of vintage furniture, old theatre seating, a disco ball, neon signs and drapes. We were one of the early arrivals so grabbed a suitably fantastically named cocktail to set the tone for the evening. As the bar got busier, a few characters mingled with the audience, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ as we enjoyed a chat with Fairy Liquid, the compere of the evening.

With everyone suitably loosened up with a couple of drinks, Fairy Liquid set up the evening’s agenda, with the panto itself loosely based on Beauty And The Beast. It isn’t long before the ‘Beauty’, aka Belle, arrives, in full Georgian drag splendour. Moving on to the dining room, the set design is amazing and really transports us to an 18th century French château with drapes and chandeliers. It’s a buffet, supper club setting so be prepared to make new acquaintances over your meal. The feast itself is very fairy tale like, featuring roast pumpkins, cauliflower cheese, plump sausages and blue cheesecake, followed by a ginger jelly and coconut ice cream dessert served in a tea cups [no chipped china ;-)] with mushroom-shaped meringues.

In between courses, we were treated to interludes of performance, with Belle and the Beast avoiding each other like the plague to the chagrin of Fairy Liquid, who is intent on getting them together with the encouragement of the audience. The climax of the feast gives us the happy ending we expect with the night getting suitably raucous with pop anthems, dancing on the table and some striptease. By this point, the audience were suitably tipsy and had really embraced the camp and spectacle of the event. With the cheesy soundtrack and constant flow of alcohol, it’s no surprise the evening ends on rather higher spirits than you would expect from a typical theatre experience. If you like immersive experiences with a high dose of booze, music and fabulousness, then check out Beauty and the Feast while it’s still on.

  • Beauty And The Feast is on from 6 October 2017 – 4 January 2018 at The Vaults (entrance via Leake Street tunnel), Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. Shows run from Tues-Sun. Door open 6.30pm, Show starts 7.30pm. Age 16+. Tickets start from £35 (includes dinner, dessert and DJs). For booking, visit The Vaults website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The dining room looks straight out of a fairy tale French château

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Party back in time at Home Front: Immersive Time Travel experience

© Partygeek

If you’re a fan of vintage or would love to time-travel, this new immersive experience could be right up your street. This December, revellers will have the chance to journey back to World War II with live music, adventures, cocktails and more.

‘Home Front: Immersive Time Travel’ will explore the untold stories from the 1940s, from the often ignored perspective of women, homosexuals and colonial soldiers. Upon arrival, guests will be asked a question and their answer can bring them in nine different directions. Follow your own story as you fight to get out of escape rooms, enjoy intimate performances and are forced to make a decision about your character’s future. Once your journey is completed, you’ll find out who your character was and their decision. The characters are based on real-life people, including a famous fighter pilot who lived openly as a homosexual, an Indian princess-turned-spy and other less well known London figures.

Time travellers will also be entertained with a live swing band and drinks from five separately themed bars. Guests’ entrance time will be staggered, with a range of ticket packages on sale.

  • Home Front: Immersive Time Travel takes place on 2 December 2017 at a secret east London location. 5.15pm-10.30pm. Tickets start from £25. For booking, visit DesignMyNight.

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Tales of Silk and Music: A festival of Indian dance at Devonshire Square

© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

The Tales Of Silk And Music festival takes place this summer at Devonshire Square
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

With 2017 being the UK-India Year of Culture, there has already been a host of events across the country celebrating our cultural exchange with India. This July and August, London is honouring that special relationship with a six-week long Indian Dance Festival. The Tales Of Silk And Music festival will take place in the historic 18th century surrounds of Devonshire Square on the fringes of the City.

Over the summer, London’s leading performers will take audiences on a retrospective journey through a range of Indian dance styles, from traditional to contemporary. With Devonshire Square’s origins as the former warehouse complex of the East India Company, the setting could not be more apt. The entertainment programme has been jointly curated by Akademi South Asian Dance and the Bollywood Co. a team of professionals based at the renowned Pineapple Dance Studio.

Patrizia Sechi, Events Manager at Devonshire Square: ‘We have scoured London to find the very best artists and the programme features dancers who have performed at high-profile events such as the launch of the UK-India Year of Culture itself, at Buckingham Palace, film and TV performances, as well as Bollywood Film Festivals. In staging Tales of Silk and Music, we hope to create an opportunity for new audiences to enjoy this beautiful and vibrant art form as part of London’s diverse cultural scene.’

Among the highlights of the festival include:

  • 6 July : Rainbows in Motion – a spectacular and uplifting fusion of modern and classical Indian dance by Bollywood Co.
  • 13 July : Odissi (ancient Indian classical dance from East India) performance by professional dancers Maryam Shakiba and Katrina Rute.
  • 27 JulyDancenbeats perform Dandiya Raas – the traditional folk dance form of Gujarat and Rajasthan, in Western India.
  • 3 August : Debanjali Biswas performs Manipuri dance, one of the major Indian classical dance styles.

During the festival, Cinnamon Kitchen will be hosting a Summer Pavilion and Bombay Sapphire Gin Garden, featuring a bespoke gin bar, luxury gazebos and an inventive Indian-inspired menu.

  • Tales Of Silk And Music performances take place every Thursday at 12.30pm from now until 17 August 2017. Free to watch. Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

For a guide to what else is on in August, click here.

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