01/09/2018 – R Space Productions: DEATHCELL

In a divided post-Brexit Britain, trust is no longer a concept which exists amongst its people. In an attempt to settle the public unrest, the government wrote into law the Harmony Act 2019, immediately setting up civil detention centres where anyone from the public can nominate someone who causes them upset to be detained. After years of corruption and misuse, the government lost control of these institutions, and they became their own entity. Those who were sent, often never returned – presumed dead – these public prisons earned a new name amongst the citizens of the country: Deathcell.

London’s Docklands are notorious for their quiet side streets that branch off from major roads, and this is where we find ourselves: on a quiet road in the middle of the docklands, outside a decrepit warehouse: two homeless people approach and started warning about the awful things that have been happening since Brexit, and how they’ve seen people go into the warehouse but have never left. They both saw we had cigarettes and bummed one off us, in exchange for a piece of clear plastic with the number “1” on it – weird.

Now, this is the point where I do a brief walk through of what I experienced to whey your appetite; however, this time you can see exactly what I can see (albeit much better because my eyesight is pants), thanks to the Go Pro that the wonderful R Space Productions let me wear!

please note the video contains plenty of swearing, sexual innuendos, and my voice. You have been warned

As you can see from the video, Deathcell lived up to its name! From the moment it began to the finale, it was impossible to not be immersed – the minimal lighting, the props, and the sound all complimented each other perfectly, and when combined with the truly dedicated and hard working back stage team, it really felt grotty and out of control – and that’s before I mention the actors!

The Actors, including the homeless couple that kept us entertained whilst we waited for our entry, really did themselves and R Space Productions proud: each character was completely realised by the actor who put 110% into their performances to really make each character feel like a real person for the brief moment we interacted with them, which is so rare to come by in haunts and immersive theatre – even when we were hanging around before and after, we had an actor or two come up and entertain us and even then they were still going all out, despite being outside the haunt. I honestly can’t say how impressed I am with the actors performances – well done to all!

There were a few niggles I had with the show: firstly was the narrative audio – there are a few spoken pieces played over the speaker system that were just a little on the quiet side, which is a real shame as I feel like we missed out on little bits here and there, and secondly was the lack of scent – whilst it wasn’t necessary, a scent pod dotted about the place really would have made the warehouse come to life as Deathcell.

 

Overall, I am exceptionally happy that R Space Productions managed to blow their Kickstarter campaign out of the water with their mad money raising skills, as it led to a truly memorable experience right here in the heart of London – I really look forward to seeing more from R Space Productions and will be back in a flash for more!

 

 

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/rsp_prod

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Website: https://www.rspaceproductions.com/

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01/09/2018 – R Space Productions: DEATHCELL

25/10/2017 – Fear at Avon Valley

Surrounded by a hell of a lot of hype with phrases such as “an event not to be missed” being thrown about by other haunt enthusiasts, I knew I had to make my way over to Avon Valley to see what the hype was all about: naturally I was skeptical as you can probably understand and I was concerned that it might have been over-hyped and really wouldn’t live up to it’s name. Did it? Well, read on and you’ll find out…

 

As with most of the scream parks I’ve visited this year, Fear at Avon Valley had this festival-like buzz in the air as you wander round, but where the other events felt more like Oktoberfest or V Festival, Fear felt more rough – almost like a drum and bass festival – thanks to the number of rides and the flashing lights, the crazy food choices (mac n cheese chips, anyone?), plentiful drink stalls and pub with music, but mostly thanks to the incredible fire show that turns into a drum and bass rave with each haunt being cleverly captured in with the fire and music while all the roaming actors dropping it like it’s hot (and it was)! I’ve seen plenty of flashmobs and roaming actors do performances over the Halloween season, but I never thought I’d see such a wide variety of characters go nuts like this lot did whilst continuing to portray their own individual character – it is truly something you have to experience for yourself (or scroll back through the Facebook page to watch it, but you’re missing out on the explosive atmosphere!).

 

The haunts themselves are very impressive seeing as Fear is still very much in its infancy at only four years this year – they offer four intense attractions each with their own personality and story: Purgatory, Phobia, Anarchy Live, and their top secret brand new haunt.

The first on our list was Purgatory, an intense and aggressive haunt themed around a prison in lockdown due to the inmates rioting, and they weren’t lying! As you enter, you experience what would be expected of entering a prison: scanners and photos are taken, then all hell breaks loose as the inmates take over and cause utter chaos! We snuck our way through bathrooms, cells, darkened corridors, and finally through a tunnel into the prison yard where a lone prison guard tries to keep the inmates at bay as floodlights sweep the smokey area – the haunt ends with a bang, literally, and we exit back into the real world with huge grins on our face as we try to re-cap what we had just left. Dark, tense, and aggressive (in a good way), everything worked perfectly! I’m really glad that the actors were able to touch and move you about as it really solidified the idea that the inmates were dangerous and unhinged, and they never overstepped the boundary with regards to aggressiveness. A brilliant haunt to start the night off with, and I was certain that given how this had set the standards high that the rest just wouldn’t measure up.

 

Our second haunt for the evening was Phobia, an extremely creepy scientific study into fears and the cure for some of the darkest fears which goes horribly wrong as you can probably guess. As a concept the haunt is absolutely brilliant, however the story needed a little more explanation in the “check up” scene part way through though as it wasn’t entirely clear what was happening the first time we went through (though it was cleared up in subsequent runs). There were a few elements that were used in Purgatory (such as the “Scooby Doo” corridor) but the way this was used was so different that had I not thought on the scene for as long as I did that I wouldn’t have noticed (this is a convoluted way of saying it was incredible). This was completely immersive – the use of scents was great, the dentist’s water gun thing was a brilliant prop, but the best and honestly most impressive element of this haunt was the actors, and I know I’m not gunna be able to do them justice with words: they played these AI bots that guided you through the facility and checked up on you at specific points, and each of them played them absolutely perfectly from the moment they stepped out to meet you right through until they/you left your/their line of sight, and it was absolutely mind-blowing! I honestly couldn’t get enough of their mannerisms, their tone, and their actions, and it really pulled the attraction together to create something truly special!

 

Third up was Anarchy Live, a cat and mouse gameshow where contestants are pit against a murderous team of… I’m not entirely sure what… where the aim of the game is survival, and the prize is their life! There’s one final twist: you are the next contestant! Whilst the premise is simplistic, it’s executed almost perfectly: lights strobe chaotically around you as the actors grab at and push you about as the gritty soundtrack blasts its way through the air, leaving a sense of pure dread hanging around in the air. The group gets split up at multiple points, either by choice of the victims or the actors, and whilst each route occupies the same spaces, they’re very different and the actors can be very creative with the way scares are executed – I really wasn’t expecting my head to be grabbed from above by an actor I didn’t see, which was hilarious and terrifying at the same time! It’s almost impossible to explain what goes on inside, but it really is pure unadulterated mayhem that leaves you screaming and jumping as you make your way round. The only criticism I have is that it completely lacked any sign of it being a TV show once you entered the maze section – I’d love to see a scare with a TV camera, or even night vision cameras set up at points that livestream specific areas into the queue area just to really sell the idea that it’s a TV show. Otherwise, a third strong attraction that never failed to deliver!

 

Finally, I survived The Fourth.

 

The hype surrounding Fear at Avon Valley exists for a reason – I was concerned that the hype was very much hyperbole, but having been and witnessed for myself, I very much agree that the hype exists for a reason: the four haunts, the roaming actors, the fire show, and Mama’s talent show were all absolutely brilliant! Each of the haunts managed to get a holler out of me and for those who have been through a haunt with me know how difficult a feat that is, the roaming actors were brilliant at remembering your interactions with them throughout the night and kept going back to them when your paths crossed later in the evening, and the fire show just blew me away! I’m honestly gutted that I couldn’t get this written up sooner as I very much urge you to get down to Avon Valley and experience the horror that is Fear. Well done to absolutely everyone involved, you’ve really set the bar high this year!

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25/10/2017 – Fear at Avon Valley