Pros: Hilarious, improvised performances and a fun, immersive set
Cons: The material is a bit thin; there is no story to speak of.
I have been to The Space, a converted church on the Isle of Dogs, many times as a reviewer for Everything Theatre. Never have I seen it used to such good effect as in Instructionally Invited. The entire venue has been taken over and transformed into a crumbling mansion, complete with winding corridors and dusty furniture. The house is inhabited by four comically posh eccentrics; they may have been ghosts, though I can’t be sure. In this immersive theatre production, we the audience played the roles of their unwitting guests at the looniest party I’ve ever been too.
In staging this production, Gruff Theatre have provided you with the opportunity to experience immersive theatre without the expensive price tag of Punchdrunk or Secret Cinema. Of course it doesn’t have the scale and detail of these pricey productions, but what Instructionally Invited lacks in lavish set dressing, it more than makes up for in zany fun. The four cast members, Holly Shuttleworth, Thomas Bostock, Alistair Foylan and Phoebe Naughton, are all hysterically funny as the cartoonish aristocrats. They do an excellent job of improvising and interacting with the audience members. I won’t divulge too many details as I don’t want to spoil the experience for future visitors. Suffice to say, I had a wonderful time.
Though extremely entertaining, the material is a bit thin. If you are craving a story, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Instead, the production feels like an hour of playtime. I’d be interested to see another immersive production from Gruff which does offer a storyline. The show is also not as experimental or as boundary pushing as the press material led me to believe; that’s not a criticism, just an observation. One quibble: lugging my heavy work bag through the set’s winding corridors was a nuisance. A bag check could considerably enhance the audience experience.
Instructionally Invited is an hour of surreal and goofy fun. I have never left The Space with such a big smile on my face.
Devised and Created: Gruff Theatre
Booking Until: 13 August 2014
Box Office: 020 7515 7799
Booking Link: https://space.org.uk/