The Vaults, London
From April 6th, 2016
by Richard Hamer
Beneath the vaults of London Waterloo station, terror has a new name: Immersive Theatre. A guided tour through lavishly re-imagined 90’s nostalgia, Goosebumps Alive is an impressive and memorable production.
Assisted to no end by the naturally evocative, cavernous interiors of the vaults itself, what is immediately striking about Goosebumps Alive is how expensive it all feels. Visitors are led in groups through multiple sets built within the tunnels, each telling short stories inspired by R.L. Stine’s books. Moving from small-town costume shop, to circus tent to cornfield in the countryside, the scale and quality of the sets consistently impresses. It even becomes mildly disorienting just how much seems to be crammed into the space, one that is far larger than I ever realised.
The quality of the stories varies, though the standard is generally high. This is Goosebumps updated for an adult audience – so there’s blood and swears and adult relationships – but it’s still Goosebumps: The acting is appropriately hammy, with the tales themselves either straightforward ghost stories or visual spectacles devoid of much narrative at all. There’s an overarching wrapper to the whole thing, but it’s wafer thin and fairly beside the point.
Some of the stories are a touch too long: this is a show that works best when its theatre is punctuated regularly by scares, the lightness of its content not really standing up over extended periods. But that’s OK: Goosebumps Alive is primarily a visual spectacle, brought to life with surprisingly high production values and a lot of wit and enthusiasm.
It comes recommended: a highly enjoyable, silly and somewhat scary experience.