Pros: Adrenaline fuelled and fun, a good option for a night out with friends.
Cons: Larger audience sizes can impact on the overall experience.
Live action zombie apocalypse experience, The Generation of Z, is an adrenaline fuelled, fun night out. The experience takes place at Department W on Mile end road, it’s easy enough to find, there’s a large marketing poster on the door and a friendly guy outside who asks “are you here for the apocalypse?”.
From the start it feels like a theme park experience, you can buy your “I survived” t-shirt at the ticket desk and the rules of are posted on the wall – running is not allowed. We are taken downstairs and briefed on how to behave before being released into the holding pen. I am in the first group to go through and get to have a good look around. It’s nothing special, but ticks all of the boxes for a classic zombie experience – metal fencing, missing persons wall, blood splatters etc.
Once a fairly large crowd has gathered in the holding pen, it all kicks off with soldiers, guns and of course, a couple of zombies. The actors play well against the crowd and be warned, troublemakers are not handled lightly. It is decided that the soldiers should escort us all to safety and we are led deeper into the basement space splitting into two groups on the way.
Each room is a perfect zombie movie cliché – over the course of the experience I get to see the deserted canteen, the incident control room, quarantine room and the holding pen. The narrative is also true to form, with some classic “are they infected or aren’t they” moments. Pay close attention to your fellow audience members.
Although we are split into smaller and smaller groups throughout the experience, the group sizes were still too large for my liking, and I often found that I couldn’t see all of the action. An excited, shrieking audience also diffused moments of tension, preventing the experience from becoming truly terrifying. This is definitely a show that can be made or broken by its audience and if shrieking girls annoy you, then perhaps this is not for you.
The experience ends on a real adrenaline packed high, followed by debrief, applause and then heavily encouraged zombie selfies – a fun marketing gimmick, but it did detract somewhat from the overall experience. I would have been happier to leave before the debrief, keeping those terrifying zombies alive in my mind a little longer.
If you want a fun night out with your friends, this is the show for you – though don’t hold onto them too tightly, you will probably have more fun on your own. Don’t wear your favourite clothes, and perhaps don’t plan a big night out afterwards – there’s a good chance you will leave splattered in blood (it’s washable). This is a fun, adrenaline fuelled zombie experience that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Written by: Benjamin Farry, Simon London and David Van Horn
Directed by: Michael Hurst and Colin Mitchell
Produced by: Beth Allen and Charlie McDermott
Playing until: 5th July
Booking link: http://www.thegenerationofz.com/#!genz