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March 2014 / Diary / by Cassia Geller

Wish you weren’t here?

Good morning hibernators – it’s spring! If you’re wiping sleep from your eyes and enjoying a good ol’ grizzly-shaped stretch in the sunshine, turning your phone back on and realising you’ve overshot 2010 by a few z’s, you might just be forgiven for asking what ‘immersive’ is, and why it’s trying to worm its way into your diary.

Because, frankly, you’d have to have been kipping under a boulder the size of Belsize Park to have missed the ever-escalating trend in immersive theatre.

So, welcome to 2014. Since you’ve been asleep, the Queen has had a massive party, we got really into sports, briefly, and welcomed a royal VIB(aby) into the world. Apart from that, things have got pretty bad. How else could we explain the age of immersive? Immersive theatre, cinema or dining – as long as we’re pretending to be anywhere and anyone else, we’re in. Most are surprises and shrouded in secrecy, all are costumed up to their starry eyeballs and a hellava lot more fun than the pub.

Let’s walk you through it. Fresh from the Y2K bug panic, British theatre company Punchdrunk began blurring the line between audience and actor, allowing spectators to roam freely through the stage/set/art installation as an epic storyline unfolded around them. Their latest, The Drowned Man(main image and above), is still going, so all we’ll say for now is that it’s beautifully – almost terrifyingly – vast, there’s a bar, and when Fabric attended last year, we ended up giving an actor a sponge bath…

No need to dwell on that stirring image, though, there’s still a lot to see – not least from immersive powerhouse Secret Cinema, whose large-scale live cinema experiences allow costumed guests submerge themselves in the world of a chosen film (recently, Prometheus and Brazil (above)), interacting with parts of the story before enjoying the film. There’s still a chance to enter the wonderful world of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, while the same fine minds also offer even more living, breathing film as Future Cinema. And, as if they weren’t immersed enough, last year saw the launch of Secret Music: all the drama and intrigue, just a lot more melodious.

Peckish? No problem. No one takes their dinner without drama these days. Personally, we’re big fans of Gingerline (above), a ‘clandestine dining adventure’ that is as appetising as it is entertaining – fusing gourmet experimental dining with immersive theatre. There are still a handful of tickets to their latest edible endeavour, The Hideout. You may also want to check out Mile High (less sordid than you think), where you can see, feel and taste the world, without the carbon footprint.

Of course, that’s just a few of the key players; with immersivity (?!) gaining more momentum with each make-believe day, soon no night out will be without a bit of theatre. Don’t worry though, you can sleep it off next winter.

Credits, from top: Birgit & Ralf, Alastair Philip Wiper, Emli Bendixel