Sometimes, you really don’t know what you are getting yourself into, and tonight most certainly was one of those cases. An immersive theatre, about fairy tale characters. But, strictly adults only. We were teased with pictures of a police inspector, of a dancing pole along with some red heels, telling us basically nothing at all. We found ourselves sitting on a huge mattress. In front of us was a little girl, telling us how she was afraid to go to sleep alone. Whether we would please stay with her. The stories her father tells her, the characters in them, they haunt her dreams. Please, please, would we stay with her? We laid ourselves down on the mattress and closed our eyes. Mere moments later, the screaming began.
It was an impressive start to the latest show of Immersive Events. Back in October, we had sprinted through the dark hallways of the Dana prison, chased by ruthless infected inmates. For their christmas show, in a fairly bold move, the company had decided to go in a completely different direction, ditching everything prison-related and going for a concept with a lot more colour and fantasy to it. A bold move, but was it a smart one?
So there we were, skipping behind Dorothy and her sparkly red shoes along the yellow brick road. The screams of the little girl we left behind were still echoing in our heads, and the very act of skipping felt a bit dark – a feeling that would be a constant through the entire evening: joyful and playful, but always with a oppressing shadow looming overhead. We were instructed to file through clues in order to find the identity of the Pied Piper, who was thought to be connected to the disappearance of local children. Tinkerbell was mad with jealousy, ready to violently strike out at anyone who might show a sliver of interest for her Peter. The Mad Hatter, an unpredictable and erratic drug dealer, who tried to enlist us in his services. Alice, cackling on the table, completely out of it. We went in for a party at the hottest club in town, Granny’s place, where it soon became apparent what exactly the princesses had to do for cheap lodging. Hansel and Gretel, blood trickling down their chin, gleefully mad and hungry for more after having had a taste of the witch. Cinderella’s two ugly sisters, ready for a special party of their own.
At the very end, a scare maze awaits, where we ventured into Santa’s workshop. Elves, beaten black and blue, gone mad from crazy work conditions, attacked us from all angles, blaming us for smuggling toys and trying to get into our pockets. Santa does not seem to be employer of the year material! Ultimately, we got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Klaus themselves – obviously in a rather unorthodox way.
It really was a barrage of scene after scene after scene, and it’s amazing how IME managed to fit this much material in without the experience feeling disjointed. The different characters and interactions come thick and fast, and each and every one of them is a riot, getting the tone just right, hilarious and frightening, uncomfortable and oh so, so very wrong all at once. Our entire group was screaming and laughing in equal measure the entire time. This being an immersive event, the way certain scenes play out will depend on the way you interact with the characters, and the actors seem to have a huge amount of fun with their roles, improvising and poking fun at the guests at every chance given, delivering strong performances without a miss.
The evening concluded in one of the prison wings, where IME had set up a bar, festive lighting and a live band. A really cool vibe, you were free to wander around the cells or to hang out wherever you wanted. As cast members started trickling in, we really enjoyed talking to them, and we easily stayed until the bar closed down. A great show by Immersive Events. They made a point of showing they can expand their shows beyond merely prison-related themes, and did it in a highly original way. Although I have only done two of their events, Twisted Fairy Tales really seemed to carry that specific IME stamp – a quality of being slightly rough round the edges, without ever being sloppy. A quality of doing it their own way, a spontaneity, a looseness in letting the event run its own course, which makes every run slightly different and unique. They confidently sculpt their own style in an expanding market. The night truly was something I had never seen before, and the raunchiness, the not-so-carefully treading a fine line without ever falling off, made for an absolutely hilarious and memorable evening. I’m very curious to see what will be next for Immersive Events.
Oh, and, hey, Red. Call me.