A few weeks ago, I was invited to an ‘immersive fairy tale’.
Wondering what that means? I was just as intrigued! I had to go explore what Philip Pullman and his team had in store at the Bargehouse in London’s South Bank.
Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales is like nothing else I have ever seen before. It’s immersive storytelling taken to the next level. In an old house, live people who want to tell you stories. Stories that are brought to life mostly through shared narrations and make shift props that keep you intrigued and wanting more as you move through this house witnessing eccentric fairy tales. It’s theatre re-imagined!
We walked through corridors of curtains and walkways covered in eerie photos that watch you as you walked past. We are at the bar before we knew it.
Intertwined chairs climbing the walls, hay bales for seating and vintage lights galore, this is like no other bar I have ever seen. There were fairy tales to explore at every turn. The prosecco and cocktails were the only thing that made sense in this room. Not that we were complaining!
Before we knew it, there was a band playing away and the fairy tales erupted around us taking us through various rooms in the building with a different story in each one.
The fairy tales include all time favourites like Hansel and Gretel and a few unfamiliar ones like Faithful Johannes, The Frog King of Iron Heinrich and one of my personal favourites Thousand Furs; the story of a princess who disguises herself in a coat made of many furs and ends up washing dishes in a castle of a neighbouring king. All to escape her father who wants to marry her after the queen passes away. Sounds bonkers? Well it is but the way the talented cast bring to life this incesteous themed love story is gripping.
Another personal favourite was a fairy tale called The Three Little Men in the Woods, a simple rags to riches tale about a girl whose life changes when she stumbles upon a trio of inscrutable dwarfs who reward her generosity with magical gifts. The story doesn’t end there however. The twist and turns are impossible to predict and leaves you wanting more.
The stories and stage settings are absolutely stunning but it’s the actors who really bring Grimm Tales to life. Performances by Maria Omakinwa and James Byng were particular highlights of the evening – their portrayal of their strange characters were captivating.
There are so many strange and wonderful things to explore as you move from one story to another including glowing wedding gowns and retro radios. We could have easily spent a few hours just exploring the oddities in the immersive set but we had stories to listen to.
If you are familiar with your fairy tales, you will stumble upon some all time favourites beyond the narrated scenes. Snow White in her glass coffin, Cinderella’s beautiful glass slippers, Rumpelstiltskin’s whirring spinning wheel and the seven dwarves bedroom complete with tiny beds and matching rucksacks. It’s beautifully done and absolutely brilliant to lose yourself in.
C’mon, it would have been wrong not to try a dwarf bed! I have never seen Sarah so happy, which reminds me, you should go check out her blog Collective Individualism – it’s one of my favourite lifestyle blogs and I am sure you will love it too.
We walked around exploring the rest of the set after the show which was so much fun! You can’t go wrong with a vertical bed and giant photo frames. It was 11.30pm before we knew it and just like Cinderella, had to rush back home before the stroke of midnight. No, we weren’t scared that our carriage was going to turn back into a pumpkin but it was a school night after all.
I absolutely loved Grimm Tales. It’s theatre like you have never seen before – it’s immersive, dream like and awe inspiring. It’s a realm of hidden adventures waiting to be explored and I cannot recommend it enough.
Grimm Tales is on at the Bargehouse in Oxo Tower Wharf till the 11th of April, so make sure you catch a performance before it’s gone.