A passive audience is so passé – the new trend of theater sees actors becoming intertwined with the public in an intense, immersive experience. So realistic is the décor, the costumes, and the deadpan actors, that it totally transports you to another universe for the evening.
London has many of these immersive theaters, from a murder mystery where you mingle with the actors, to an interactive movie night where everyone’s in fancy dress. Here are BUCKiTDREAM’s five best immersive experiences in the capital.
Be Transported onto a Real-Life Movie Set At Secret Cinema, the build-up leading to the event is almost as big as the actual thing itself. Weeks before, you’ll need to add some details to a website, and then you’ll be sent a character you need to adopt, along with a name and an outfit suggestion. Once in your attire, you’ll head to the location on the big day.
First, you’ll notice swarms of other cinema goers in fancy dress as you approach the nearby ‘secret’ location. Once inside (phones locked away), you’ll be transported to a truly immersive experience, where a whole entire film set is relived through this epic event. There are actors threaded throughout, and since everyone is in fancy dress, it’s not clear who’s a normal person and who’s playing a part.
You’ll spend a few hours exploring this incredible new world before you settle in to watch the movie in question. This is one of London’s most loved and renowned immersive theatrical experiences, so don’t miss out on tickets.
Address: 300 Manor Rd, London E16 4PA, UK
Try to Crack the Murder Mystery at a Very Intimate and Immersive ‘Punk’ Theater At an ImmerCity production, you won’t see the whole show. Instead, you’ll follow just one character around a huge set (made up of many rooms) trying to work out his or her story. The actor might interact with other actors, but you won’t see all the clues. During the ‘interval’ you’ll reconvene with your team of fellow audience members, who would have followed other actors. Together, you’ll try to piece together what happened.
For the second half of the show, you’ll go as a group and interview all the characters, with the hope of working out whodunnit! Previous shows included a deserted rug factory in Borough, set in the ’80s, with young punk squatters and a murdered roommate, and another show was set in a huge mansion near Victoria Station, taking you back to the ’60s, where a man jumped out of the window. Why, how and who? It’s all for you to figure out.
Address: 74 Long Lane, London, SE1 4AU
Tuck into an Immersive Five-Course Meal At Gingerline, not much is given away. You can’t have your phone out, and you’re made to swear an oath that you’ll keep the rest of the experience quiet, to save the surprise for future guests.
What happens: You turn up at a specific tube line at a given time and you’ll be sent directions to a secret location nearby at 4 pm on the day (if you’re sh*t at directions, you’re screwed). Once you’ve found it, you’ll tuck into an epic five-course feast set amongst the backdrop of a specific theme. It’s all served up by actors, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another world. Previous themes have included ‘Lost Gardens of Gingerline’ and ‘The Secret Island’. But we can’t say anymore or they’ll shoot us!
Address: 130-136 New N Rd, London N1, UK
Get Jolly at a Rowdy Medieval Banquet Taking you way back in time, you’ll enter huge vaulted cellars and join King Henry VIII and his court of knights, magicians, troubadours, and jugglers for a night of medieval tomfoolery. Take a seat at the long table, where you’ll be served by wenches who’ll sing and dance their way through your four-course meal that served with wines, ales, and juices.
But beware – the feast will probably be interrupted by an elaborate sword fight. After eating, you’ll be encouraged to get up and dance with the cast into the night to tunes from the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Fancy dress is, of course, encouraged.
Address: Ivory House, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London E1W 1BP, UK
Chat with a Pretend Detective and Gain Entry to a Secret Speakeasy Knock on the door at the Evans & Peel Detective agency and you’ll be ushered down into an office, a tiny room with papers pinned to the walls with lots of messy scribbles. There’s barely enough room for a few people, just space for a desk that the ‘detective’ will stand behind as he talks you through your ‘case’ that needs to be solved. You best get those imagination wheels a-turning and think up a story!
Once you’ve chatted through your case, the detective reaches for the bookcase and up it opens, revealing a hidden speakeasy bar that’s lit by candlelight and plays crackling 1920s tunes. It’s a real experience, from the dramatic entry right through to the mixing and shaking at the bar.
Address: 310c Earls Ct Rd, Earls Court, London SW5 9BA, UK
Now that you’ve been fully immersed in this bucket list of insane London theaters, do want more dramatic excitement? You should also check out The 7 Coolest Movie Theaters in the World.