Our team needs no excuse for a trip to an exciting immersive experience in the capital. As we were heading to London to attend an award ceremony, we could not pass up the opportunity to connect with some of our London colleagues and clients while we were in the capital.
Based in North London at the The Vanguard Theatre in Camden Garrison, the experience centres around Tommy Shelby’s gang and is based on season 2 of the programme in 1920s London.
Through a 360-degree theatre show, the event and live actors move participants through drinks, dancing and crafty scheming as it follows the rise in fortunes of the Shelby family. Full of twists and turns, unfolding secrets and storylines to keep you, as a player, hooked, the experience is truly a great celebration of the well-loved TV phenomenon.
Here at Imagineerium, we cannot help but get front, middle and centre in an immersive experience and had an absolute blast at Peaky Blinders - The Rise. A real highlight for us was dressing up as 1920s gangsters ready for a journey through the world of the Peaky Blinders. Here is what we had to say about our time deciding whether or not to be loyal associates of the Shelby clan or turn against them to join a rival gang…
The cast of Peaky Blinders: The Rise - Source
Did you feel fully immersed in the experience? What did they do to immerse you and how did this feel?
Natasha: Absolutely! The set design and overall atmosphere was incredible. The careful detailing of everything made me truly believe that I was in the world of the 1920s gangsters. The cast was outstanding and immensely believable. The nature of the weaving narratives and plot lines made it easy to follow, yet exciting, fully captivating my whole being. I do not believe that anyone would have had the same experience from the choices each individual has to make during the plot (unless you stayed glued to a friend). The cast were great at guiding this way and that way, jumping from one storyline to another, intertwining plotlines even more. There was also the option to only observe, but there were plenty of opportunities to get involved and chat with the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed being allocated many tasks / missions throughout.
Kirstyn: Yes, there was never a quiet moment. The Peaky Blinders crew were everywhere, there wasn't a moment where we weren't whisked away to follow a new storyline or given a sneaky task. How much you wanted to interact felt very much up to you, taking away the confrontation of the experience, making it feel all that more exciting. Having the option to dress up like a Peaky Blinder also made you feel more immersed in their world, and it really helped you get into character.
Sarah: We were immersed as soon as we arrived in the queue and were led into the world / building feeling very much a part of the experience already. We moved from a small space where we encountered Alfie Solomons, into a bigger area where “the rules”of the experience were delivered in a fun way. The acting and atmosphere was authentic and engaging throughout. We felt like we were in an episode. It was very impressive.
Saz: Even before we arrived, the pre-engagement was brilliant, coming up with our outfits and the suspense of what to expect. Once we got there, the entry into the experience brought us straight into their world and kept us there through the duration of the show. The more I put in, the more I got out and I found myself on several side missions, supporting the narrative, and at times playing a role myself in front of the whole audience!
Did the experience feel true to the television series and how?
N: Yes, The design was characteristic of the series, with lots of recognisable features. I thought the actors did an incredible job of embodying the original cast's voices and mannerisms. I was particularly impressed with the actor who played Alfie Solomon, played by Tom Hardy in the TV series, who managed to nail his psychotic voice and temper.
K: Yes, the actors looked just like the characters and the costume design was indicative of the style from the series, often replicating the fashionable numbers. The set was on theme and well thought out for each storyline.
Sarah: There was great attention to detail from the sets to costumes, as well as constant nods to the TV series. The actors were energised and in character throughout and their placement, along with the music and plot points from the show was accessible both to superfans and those who were completely unfamiliar with the story.
Saz: Some of the best casting I have ever seen, the actors were just amazing and they managed to both be engaging as immersive performers and sometimes a little bit threatening to stay true to the narrative. I did not want to get on the wrong side of Tommy that's for sure! Costumes, sets, as well as story, were all perfect and true to the television series. Even if you had not seen Peaky Blinders prior to your visit, it would still have been brilliant as we did not find you needed to know anything about the series before you arrived, the storytelling was spot on.
What was your favourite part of the experience?
N: The design was stunning and it was magical to see traditional theatrical trickery within an immersive theatre setting. Rather than moving from room to room (which I have seen done a lot), the two main spaces were able to turn into around fifteen or more new settings and the constantly evolving space and plotline meant you were never bored. This enabled for stunning large spaces with big crowds that weren’t claustrophobic for the spectacle scenes whilst also creating smaller more intimate spaces where you felt only you and a few others were privy to that particular piece of the plot.
The lighting design was also incredibly atmospheric. The creation of immersion in its entirety was spectacular to experience, with a full body sensory euphoria of being transported to the heart of the television series and its history.
K: One of my favourite aspects was the guided free roaming, you could walk around the two main rooms, but if you were following the right storylines, you'd gain access into some secret locations. The acting was fantastic and we witnessed some stunning performances while they also managed various levels of interaction and kept fantastic control over the crowds moving in all different directions.
Sarah: I loved the fact that our group was split up and we all experienced a different take/experience and element of the story line by being pulled into different rooms. This meant we could compare notes at the end and discover substories. There was also a good balance of down time to hang out at the bar, time to roam and explore the sets individually or together. No matter how many times you attended, I don’t think you would have the same experience twice, which I loved as it makes you want to go back straight away and experience it again.
Saz: I'm a sucker for a 1-on-1 during an immersive theatre experience, and I was lucky enough to get a few of these. Unlike some shows, which can have dead-end interactions, my engagement made a difference to the narrative. This is a rare show that you could go to time and time again as there are so many story-trails for you to follow or take part in.
Would you recommend people to head along to the live theatrical experience?
N: 100% yes. And I would absolutely go again, follow different narratives, and try to reach Sabini’s notorious Eden club - a more secret room, which I only saw after the show had finished thanks to a friend within the show!
K: Definitely. Regardless of how involved you want to get, the experience is great for everyone!
Sarah: Oh yes, I highly recommend the experience. Although I haven't watched much of the TV show, I didn't feel like this hindered my experience.
Saz: I am a big fan of Immersive Everywhere's work. They find the perfect balance to suit all theatre-goers; play if you want, or observe from the sidelines, but either way you will have a great time, and will always have a different personal experience depending on which stories you end up following. I hope to come back soon and play again!