Ah summer. A wonderful time you spend living back at home with your parents, with no student loan (not as if I get enough anyway but hey ho), working shifts in part-time jobs which keep you sane from your mum moaning that your suitcase is making the hall look messy, but also driving you insane because the customer you’ve just spent 20 minutes looking after left the store without making a purchase, and barely giving you a smile or a ‘thank you’. But never-the-less, a time that must be celebrated, and me and Kim did that in the only way we know really – with cocktails, food and theatre. But this time we did it all at once!
The immersive experience is one many a theatre-goer is apprehensive about, myself included. The thing about it is you never know what to expect. Are you meant to be nervous going into it? What shocks should you prepare yourself for? Well in this case, more splendour than shock. As I entered the Jonses house through a fridge door in a small building in Islington, I was met with the scene of a giant pantry, which led me into a dishwasher, where I ate a dishwasher tablet – not a flash tablet fear not, if I did that I doubt I would be alive to write this post. No, it was a sweet macaron, in the shape of said tablet. It tasted fabulous – and I could have eaten about 5, but I suppose a greedy 19-year-old student would have spoiled the effect of the magic. From here, we met Mr. Jones – a strapping fellow bathing in a tub of rubber duckys. He gifted us with our second cocktail of the experience – a concoction of gin, citrus and cream all mashed together in a toothpaste tube. Even for me, the most seasoned of gin drinkers, you could only handle it in small doses, which was not very well thought out as the whole affair went warm after a short time and was definitely inedible in that state. Having met Mr Jones, we were welcomed into the laundry room – floor strewn with duck feathers as we engaged in a whole group pillow fight, before being welcomed into the sound room, where there was without doubt some shameless product placement going on – you could not miss the well-placed “Bang and Oulfsen speakers” line in that script of you tried. And having been let into the ‘garden’ to finish our drinks and discuss our experience, the real consideration began. Without doubt the acting was good – the characters were deep and strong enough to allow the audience to infer a clear backstory from them (clearly Mr and Mrs Jones had a troubled marriage) but that illusion was broken the second we saw a second Mrs Jones. Rookie error on the productions behalf, almost definitely. It most certainly raised the question of how much can art cross with business? Although the wow factor of the whole night was undeniable – the sheer amount of ‘in your face’ branding was a feat that just didn’t feel or sit right in the event. It felt like it ticked all the right boxes of its commission, there were feminist quotes on the wall of the kitchen “A woman’s place is wherever she wants to be” and frequent ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ on the tour, but as it ended, on reflection there was only a certain amount of possible critique on the story and characters available. The story only went as deep as the fact that Mrs Jones was having a party, and you were invited – and the characters said enough about themselves to leave very little to the imagination. We went to see theatre, and theatre we got, but what we got most was passive-aggressive sales techniques and bribery, through novelty sweets and cocktails in toothpaste tubes.