Sounds and Sorcery has taken over every aspect of The Vaults down in Waterloo. A celebration of the 1940s film Fantasia, the immersive theatrical experience has the audience in the centre of the stories, accompanied by a pair of headphones and an audio player that you keep with you throughout the production. This was my first experience being at an immersive production and it was a great one to start with. Here are five reasons why you should check out the production for yourself.
The stunning music
The music that accompanies you during the production takes the stunning score of Fantasia and is performed in a recording by a 96 piece orchestra. In the first scene, everyone in your time slot is brought into a room where there are round sofas that everyone lies down on and the experience is brought to life. While the music comes alive in your headphones, we were looking up at gorgeous visual design that worked so well in time with the music. Across the entire production, the music was beautiful but that first scene with everyone in the room listening and watching the same things at the same time felt more of a communal experience than being part of a live show.
The immersive experience
After the first scene, you can then branch off into four different scenes that bring to life four segments from Fantasia to life. And they really do bring it to life. As we were walking into the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment, there was a sign that warned us that “we may get splashed”. So I definitely wouldn’t recommend being near the front for this one. It was a really beautiful scene and the performers were so emotive, even though they didn’t use any words. And their actions were so in time with the music, it really made a wonderful experience. Apart from when I got slightly splashed.
The set design
The detail in Kitty Callister’s gorgeous set design is so precise and subtle, that this only further enhanced how immersive the production is. From the dampness in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to the staging and incorporation of aerial silks in Dance of the Hours. The entire scale of the set was, for me, one of the major highlights of the production. I had only previously visited The Vaults at the space in Launcelot Street but the production uses every single space in The Vaults building, which is rather impressive.
The visual effects
The mix of video design by Doug Foster and lighting design by Jake Wiltshire are a match made in heaven, particularly evident in the Ave Maria segment. Although you are watching a video and the people in the video aren’t there with you, the lights flashing in the room only helped enhance the experience and was a particularly beautiful segment.
The cross genre convergence aspect
Walt Disney famously described his film as “not really a concert, not a vaudeville or a revue but a grand mixture of comedy, fantasy, ballet, drama, impressionism, colour, sound and epic fury”, which I would say is spot on. Bare in mind that was a film released in the 1940s, can you imagine what it would look like if it was made today? We may not know but we do have this experience as the next best thing. Although there are segments that include live performers which can make the entire production a theatre show, I did feel at times, this production could’ve easily been an art exhibition due to the brilliant sets. But then, the first scene made me feel like I was at a concert. But I guess that is the whole point of the production. For you to interpret it the way you want to. And director Daisy Evans has certainly achieved that in this landmark production.
For tickets and more information please visit https://www.soundsandsorcery.com/
Images by Hanson Leatherby, Jason Yeoman & Laurence Howe