The last immersive theatre adventure of the year took our theatre club to Covent Garden for a lively interactive production of “Once Upon a Christmas” by creative theatre group Look Right Look Left.
The premise is a bit cheesy at best – and perfectly suited to the pantomime style of the production. The Christmas Wedding of a lifetime – between Cinderella and Prince Charming has been called off as they have broken up and gone into hiding! Everyone has a reason they need the wedding to take place – the elves are scared that with the wedding off the Christmas spirit will disappear and Santa will have a nervous breakdown, the scheming step-mother worries her royal ambitions will be scuppered—and as a result all the characters are in a blind panic that unless we can find Cinderella and Charming and get the wedding to happen, Christmas will be ruined.
No pressure, then.
The evening itself is a wonderful whirlwind of exploring Covent Garden while meeting lively and colourful characters along the way. You set off in groups of two, and are each given a coloured hi-vis vest to wear, the colour of which will determine which path you follow. You are split up almost immediately – each of you follows a different trail and meets different characters, but your journeys dovetail wonderfully so that you have a chance to compare notes and get to the truth of the break up.
The characters are wonderful and some are downright hilarious. They certainly do not fit in with their surroundings, and as a lot of the interactions take place in the stores in the piazza, the bemused looks from fellow shoppers are pretty impressive.
The organization is excellent, and a lot relies on texting information ahead – characters know your names, your favourite thing about Christmas, your thoughts on love, and your favourite tea and re integrate this information into your interactions as the tour goes on. The tour is easy to follow bar one bit where a map is required for both members of the team. We went in a group of 6 overall and every one of the six struggled to use the map. Luckily, once we spotted the monk selling a cart of glittery pumpkins in the market (really) we knew we were back on track.
It’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish, and it’s impossible not to feel Christmassy once you get to the final location and are surrounded by trees and falling snow (and complementary wine.) It’s an evening full of giggles and, although pricey at £35, was a lot of fun for our entire group – and we had a great time comparing experiences at nearby Henry’s bar afterwards.
3 ½ – 4 stars from this reviewer; and you can find out more about it here.
There are a few things to note.
You collect your tickets at the London Transport Museum, and they never mentioned to us where the start location was (it’s NOT at the Transport Museum, it’s at King Street) and as a result, unfortunately we missed our first time slot because we were waiting at the Transport Mueseum. Fortunately the people before us were early, because everything is timed to the minute, and they are not able to set you off at a delay.
It really is best to do it in twos – each of you see different sides to the story, and have access to different types of information. The story feels more complete once you and your buddy compare notes.
This photo’s from Jeff Moore at Time Out London. If that’s not cool, do let me know.