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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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Vault Festival 2017: Music, theatre, film, comedy, parties and more at London’s fringe festival

© Will Hazel

The Vault Festival kicks off in Waterloo from 25 January – 5 March 2017.
© Will Hazel

Returning to Waterloo this winter is the biggest Vault Festival to date. Now in its fifth year, the six-week long fringe event will be expanding to two further local venues in addition to its home beneath Waterloo station. There’s something for everyone with music, theatre, film, comedy, parties, food, drinking and more.

Among the highlights of the festival, will be the chance to step into Jay Gatsby’s world in an immersive theatrical experience of The Great Gatsby.  Meanwhile, Superbolt Theatre return to the Vault Festival with two productions; their 2016 hit The Jurassic Parks, a hilarious spin on Spielberg’s blockbuster, and Mars Actually, a physical and funny vision of life on the red planet.

Turning circus on its head is Becoming Shades, a reimagining of the myth of Persephone using live music, aerial acrobatics, fire, dance and mime. The thought-provoking Thought To Flesh is a theatrical investigation into motor neuron disease (MND) using spoken word, multi-media and movement interpretation.

Vault Festival © Will Hazel

Head to The Vaults every weekend for the late-night parties
© Will Hazel

Meanwhile, movie fans will be able to enjoy the Vault’s Film Festival, featuring 20 different screenings. Among the premiers include dark_net staring Johnny Vegas and Love Comes Later, starring Sarita Choudhury (Homeland). There will also be a special screening of Red from award-winning director Branko Tomovic, a crime thriller about illegal backstreet surgery.

For party animals, the Vaults will be hosting late-night revelry every weekend, including the Galactic Love Valentine’s Ball, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), The Nudge’s Great Gatsby Party, as well as the festival’s opening and closing parties presented by Time Out London.

Aside from the entertainment, there are plenty of opportunities for drinking and eating. The Balkano Kitchen will be serving dishes inspired by chef Martin H Shaw’s travels in Eastern Europe. There will be five bars across the three venues, with two themed bars presented in collaboration with Meantime beer and Campari. One of the more intriguing drinking spots will be The Neath, an immersive, subterranean members bar for the supernatural produced and curated by the team behind The Crystal Maze.

  • The Vaults Festival takes place from 25 January – 5 March 2017 at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN and Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, Waterloo, SE1 8SJ. Nearest station: Waterloo. Shows will also be on at Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7HT. Nearest station: Lambeth North (open from mid-Feb). For more information and tickets, visit The Vault Festival website.

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

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Shopping in style – Part 2: The world’s oldest arcade, the Royal Opera Arcade

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Royal Opera Arcade in St James is the world’s oldest existing shopping arcade

Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 2 will be focusing on where it all began; the Royal Opera Arcade – the oldest arcade in the world.

The names and buildings of Her Majesty’s Theatre

1705: The Queen’s Theatre built
1709: Theatre is dedicated to Italian Opera. Often referred to as ‘the Opera House’
1714: Renamed The King’s Theatre
1789: The King’s Theatre burns down
1791: Theatre is rebuilt and reopens
1837: Renamed Her Majesty’s Theatre, Italian Opera House
1867: Fire destroys the second theatre
1869: New theatre built
1892: Third theatre demolished
1897: Current Her Majesty’s Theatre opens
1901: Renamed His Majesty’s Theatre
1952: Renamed Her Majesty’s Theatre

Now you could well be confused wondering why the Royal Opera Arcade is over a kilometre away from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Well the current opera house has only been in its current location since 1847. The current Her Majesty’s Theatre on Haymarket is the fourth theatre to stand on the site and has experienced numerous name changes throughout history. Throughout the 18th and early 19th century, the theatre was renowned as the place in London to see opera and ballet. However, in 1846, Michael Costa (1808-1884), conductor at Her Majesty’s, had a dispute with the owners and switched allegiance to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, bringing most of the company with him. Theatre Royal, Covent Garden was then renamed the Italian Opera House, eventually becoming the Royal Opera House in 1892.

The Royal Opera Arcade was conceived as an add-on to the second theatre to stand on the site – the King’s Theatre. The original King’s Theatre burned down in 1789 and replaced by a new building in 1791, designed by Michael Novosielski (1747–1795), an architect and former scene painter. When it opened, it was the largest theatre in the country. However, as the 19th century progressed, the theatre was in need of improvement. Regency architect John Nash (1752-1835) and his assistant George Stanley Repton (d.1858) altered the façade of the theatre and increased the capacity of the auditorium to 2,500 in 1816-1818. To the west of the theatre, they added the Royal Opera Arcade. Nash is also famous for designing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, Carlton House Terrace and many others.

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Meet Roald Dahl’s The Twits in a fabulously foul, immersive dining experience

Dinner at The Twits © Addie Chinn

Dine with some of Roald Dahl’s most memorable characters at Dinner at The Twits
© Addie Chinn

This year marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl. And what better way to pay tribute to the legendary children’s author than by bringing two of his most memorable characters to life. Coming to London this autumn is gruesome, immersive theatrical dining experience Dinners At The Twits.

© Florence Fairweather

The Terrible Shrinks cocktail garnished with a scented helium balloon
© Florence Fairweather

Located deep in The Vaults below Waterloo train station, guests will be treated to 90 minutes of entertainment from the worst hosts ever. Les Enfants Terribles, the company behind last year’s immersive hit show Alice’s Adventures Underground, have teamed up with real-life Willy Wonkas, food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr to create a unique evening experience.

Upon arrival, diners will be greeted with a potent cocktail using ingredients from Mr Twit’s garden. Chose between The Terrible Shrinks (Roly Poly Bird berry and orange vodka topped with soda, garnished with a scented helium balloon) or The Twits Garden Spritz (wild nettle and thistle-infused Aperol, wild strawberry vermouth, prosecco and soda, garnished with nettles and thistles).

Guests will then take their seats with Mr and Mrs Twit at their chaotic table for a special menu conceived by Bompas & Parr. The banquet will include Wormery LIVE, Glowing Hug Tight Glue, Treasures of the Compost Heap, Bird Pie – Your Night of a Thousand Claws and Bloater Paste. To finish, you can chomp on Mr Twit’s Beardy Bar, special chocolates created specially for Dinner At The Twits. Chocolatiers Rococo Chocolates have conceived a wonderous mix of their own milk chocolate with cereal, banana, yoghurt, lapsang souchong tea and honey.

Meanwhile, you’ll be able to wash it down with half a bottle of bag-in-box wine from St. John Wines and Mr Twit’s Odious Ale – a bespoke brew by East London’s 40FT Brewery using the native yeast from Roald Dahl’s actual writing chair.

After the theatrical dinner, guests are invited to relax in the Muggle-Wumps’ Downside Up Cocktail Cavern in The Vaults for deliciously bizarre concoctions. The Cocktail Cavern will be open to all, so members of the public too scared to experience the gruesome meal can enjoy a flavour of The Twits’ world.

  • Dinner At The Twits runs from 4 September – 30 October 2016. The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. Minimum age 14+. Tickets: £80-£110 (feature a 90 minute show, arrival cocktail, banquet with wine, box of chocolates and hot beverage). Timings: Tues-Sat evenings: 6pm, 7.15pm and 8.30pm, Sat matinees: 12pm, 1.15pm and 2.30pm . Sundays 12pm, 1.15pm, 2.30pm and 3.45pm. For booking, visit The Twits dinner website.
  • The Muggle-Wumps’ Downside Up Cocktail Cavern is open to the general public from 6pm-late Tues-Sat and has free entry.

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

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Bedtime stories, frantic fans and drag superstars push the boundaries of theatre at LIFT Festival 2016

© Cyclone_A

Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker 3 @ Lift Festival
© Cyclone_A

Returning to London this summer is the LIFT Festival, a month-long celebration and exploration of innovative theatre from around the world. During the month-long festival, over 30 events featuring work from 14 countries will take place at venues across London, from the Barbican to an East End cemetery.

LIFT has been a pioneer in pushing the boundaries of theatre since its inception in 1981 and this year promises to be its most exciting yet. As well as home-grown talent, there will also be work from 14 countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Canada, Japan, Australia, the USA, Lebanon and Syria.

Among the wide variety of entertainment will be wild Japanese pop fans, a circus in a cemetery, refugees, ancient Greeks and teenagers with attitude. Meanwhile, venues include Hackney Empire, Hoxton Hall, British Library, Royal Court Theatre, Southbank Centre, Barbican, Shoreditch Town Hall, Sadler’s Wells, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, Battersea Arts Centre and many more.

© Conrado Krivochein

Slip into bed for ‘Everything By My Side’
© Conrado Krivochein

Kicking off this year’s festival will be American shaman, singer-songwriter, social critic and performance artist extraordinaire Taylor Mac with a fabulous romp through the great American songbook. Meanwhile, from Argentina, ‘Everything By My Side’ is an intimate, playful performance which invites you to slip between the sheets of a stranger’s bed and listen to a childhood tale. Jump into an immersive festival experience with ‘Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker’, where the audience are encouraged to wear ponchos and ear plugs during a frenzied homage to otagei, (ritualised Japanese dancing and chanting by groups of fans).

Speaking about this year’s festival, LIFT Artistic Director Mark Ball said: ‘Does art help us belong? I have met pioneering artists and performers from around the world who connect to the astonishing range of international communities that make up London, and, asking that very question, have made a Festival that investigates how this amazing mix of people adds up to the London I love. The cultural influences and radical imaginations of our festival artists result in enthralling and joyful work that will be seen in spaces and venues that take us into the guts of the city – so make your own playlist and join us at LIFT 2016.’

  • Lift Festival 2016 takes place from 1 June – 2 July 2016. Ticket prices vary. For more information, visit the LIFT Festival website.

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

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Goosebumps Alive: Discover what lurks beneath at The Vaults below Waterloo in an immersive spooky experience

Goosebumps Alive

Goosebumps Alive, an immersive, theatrical spooky experience runs at The Vaults until September

It’s one of the most popular book series of all time, having spooked hundreds of millions of readers around the world. And now fans of the ’90s hit books Goosebumps can experience some of the scary tales coming to life in a new immersive, theatrical experience.

Lurking deep in the abandoned railway tunnels beneath Waterloo station will be scenes from some of American author R.L. Stine’s iconic stories, such as Stay Out Of The Basement, Night Of The Living Dummy and Say Cheese And Die! Audience members young and old will be taken on a journey testing their mettle as they venture from room to room. Among the experiences guests can expect will be being buried alive, witnessing a flock of birds crash into a window or being grappled by monsters!

The new production, which opens for previews on 6 April, will be split into two immersive experiences – Goosebumps Kids (for children aged 5-11) and Goosebumps Alive (Adults, but suitable for over 12s). Directed by Tom Salamon, the experience will also feature original artwork from original Goosebumps books illustrator Tim Jacobus and set design by Samuel Wyer (from last year’s Vaults production Alice’s Adventures Underground). The Tiger Lillies band will also be performing live intermittently during the run.

Kieron Vanstone, Director at The Vaults said: ‘I’ve wanted to take Goosebumps to the stage for years but had to make sure I could do justice to R.L. Stine’s trademark combination of horror and humour. Immersive events have become the lifeblood of London culture, from Punchdrunk to Secret Cinema, and Goosebumps is perfectly suited to the genre – these stories were made to be experienced up close, with every shiver, sound and unsettling sight! I’ve been a lifelong fan of Goosebumps – who could forget Night of the Living Dummy? – and am thrilled to be bringing these shows to London this year, along with some of the best creative talent around.’

  • Goosebumps Alive is on from 14 April until 4 September 2016 (previews start 6 April), while Goosebumps Kids runs from 14 May until 4 September (Every weekend and Tues-Sunday during school holidays only). Tickets: Adults start from £32.50, Children from £15 (plus booking fees). The adult show lasts 90 minutes with entry times from Tues-Fri: 7-9.30pm, Sat 1.30-9.30pm and Sun 1.30-7.30pm. Kids show lasts 50 minutes with entry times from Sat-Sun 11am-12.30pm and school holidays Tues-Sun 11am-12.30pm.
  • The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit Goosebumps Alive website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Alice’s Adventures Underground review: Feel like a child again on a fantastical immersive theatre experience

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Head to another world in immersive theatre experience Alice’s Adventures Underground

Immersive theatre and cinema has been steadily growing in popularity in London in recent years, with Secret Cinema and Punch Drunk two stellar examples. With the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland this year, theatre company Les Enfants Terribles have created an immersive journey into Wonderland in the vaults below Waterloo station.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

A dodo acrobat in the Wonderland bar

My friend and I paid a recent visit on a Sunday afternoon. It’s admittedly a bit tricky to review as different groups have totally different experiences and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for any potential visitors so I will try to give a flavour of what to expect. Photos aren’t allowed (except in the Wonderland bar afterwards) so you are free to fully immerse yourselves in the experience without the distraction of cameraphones.

After arriving 15 minutes before our allotted time, we were put into a large group and shown into a dark, messy room full of Victoriana – the study of Lewis Carroll. It isn’t long before we were given the choice of ‘Eat Me’ or ‘Drink Me’, splitting the group in half. We chose ‘Eat Me’, so ended up going through a special door. It wasn’t long before our groups are split in half again. As our journey continued, we were taken from room to room where we met characters from Wonderland, including the White Rabbit, the Playing Cards and a female version of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Throughout the experience, there is plenty of opportunities for interaction with the residents of Wonderland. I had a brief exchange with Alice, while my friend spoke to one of the Hearts playing cards.

One of the highlights was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – where all our original group were reunited for a fantastically chaotic tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the sleepy Dormouse. My friend and I admitted we wished we had our cameras because it was such a fantastic sight. After finally getting the chance to see the terrifically scary Queen Of Hearts at the climax of show, we emerged into the atmospheric Wonderland Bar. The bar serves suitably themed cocktails and nibbles, but is also open late on Fridays and Saturday with live music and DJs.

My friend and I totally loved the show. It was a surreal and entertaining experience. The cast were brilliant and it is really down to them that the theatrical journey was so real. I was a fan of Alice In Wonderland when I was younger and the production really made me feel like a child again.

  • Alice’s Adventures Underground takes place at The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD until 30 August 2015. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets (should be booked in advance for specific time slots): Tues, Wed and Sunday £35, Thurs £40-£47.50, Fri and Sat £47.50. For more information and booking, visit the Alice’s Adventures Underground website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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The Legacy at The Hope Theatre: Love, money and bleeding heart liberals in a new play by Angela Clarke

© Ben Broomfield 2015

The Legacy, starring Lucinda Westcar, Claira Watson Parr and Jim Mannering, runs at The Hope Theatre from 8-13 June
© Ben Broomfield 2015

Coming to The Hope Theatre this month is The Legacy, the debut play from acclaimed author and journalist Angela Clarke. Running for one week, The Legacy is a cynical and funny drama which explores gender, affluence and fighting back.

The Legacy poster

After years of estrangement, two sisters – who couldn’t be more different – are reunited following the death of their father for the reading of his will. Rebecca (Lucinda Westcar) is a content wife and mother revelling in her ‘perfect’ suburban life. Sister Esther (Claira Watson Parr) is her polar opposite – a politically minded, media savvy, online viral activist.

As the two sisters are brought together after a decade apart, Esther’s free-spirited attitude soon plays havoc with Rebecca’s idyllic existence, prompting both to face questions they’d rather avoid. It isn’t long before the pleasantries are gone, tempers are frayed and the reason behind Esther’s disappearance finally comes to light.

The Legacy is the debut play from Angela Clarke, whose debut novel Confessions Of A Fashionista was published in 2013. Directing is Michael Beigel, founder of Like The Clappers theatre collective. Previous directing credits include Love and Understanding (Cockpit Theatre) and The Glorious History and Tragical Demise of Doctor John Faustus (Space45).

  • The Legacy runs from 8 – 13 July 2015 at The Hope Theatre (upstairs at the Hope & Anchor pub), 207 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1RL. Nearest station: Highbury & Islington. Tickets: £14/£12 conc. Show starts at 7.45pm (Sat matinee 2.30pm). Over 18s only. For more information and booking, visit The Hope Theatre’s website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Travel through time in thrilling new immersive theatre meets live quest Time Run

© Time Run

Enter the world of Edwardian adventurer and inventor Luna as you take part in Time Run
© Time Run

Have you ever wished you could travel through time? While the science world is yet to give us that opportunity, wannabe Marty McFlys or Bill & Teds can get a taste of what it could be like with the new experience Time Run.

Coming to East London this spring and summer, Time Run is a live quest meets immersive theatre in a new twist on the ‘escape  the room’ games. Groups of three to five people will be taken on a 1 hour journey across history, where they will take on puzzles, challenges and solve mysteries. With just 60 minutes to complete the mission, the team-members will need to work together to escape a series of three rooms.

Joining them on their quest will be Edwardian adventurer, inventor and scientist Luna Fox and her eccentric, robotic sidekick Babbage, who will guide the new recruits along the way. The experience will bring 21st century gamers into strange new environments, where they will meet various characters and interactive with their unusual surroundings.

Time Run is a new concept from Josh Ford, the Director of boutique events company and festival Winterwell and co-founder of crazy golf club Swingers. Ford has teamed up with the Disappear Here collective to develop and produce this innovative new project.

  • Time Run is taking place at 9-15 Helmsley Place, London Fields, E8 3SB from 23 April – 2 August 2015. Nearest station: London Fields. Tickets: £24 (off-peak), £29 (peak). For more information and booking, visit the Time Run website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.

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