Goosebumps Alive at Vaults, London – ‘gloriously spine-tingling’
With Tim Minchin about to launch his Groundhog Day musical on the world, and gold and silver tokens fluttering around an Islington crystal dome, 1990s nostalgia is most definitely in. And while we wait with baited breath for the Fresh Prince of Bel Air ballet and the Biker Mice from Mars rock opera, some team of mad geniuses have given R L Stine’s Goosebumps series the immersive theatre treatment, with gloriously spine-tingling results.
Most definitely not for kids, Goosebumps Alive’s brilliance lies in its witty transposition of Stine’s concepts to the lives of London’s millennials. Each show is made up of a series of vignettes of varying scales, from sweaty monologue to fully fledged short play, which take the germ of a Stine story and flesh it out into a contemporary morality tale. Stay Out of the Basement’s story of killer plants and a mad scientist now centres around an abusively controlling boyfriend; The Cuckoo Clock of Doom’s time-travel narrative now takes place in a Bermondsey pawn-shop. It’s a bold and unexpected move, but writer and director Tom Salamon nails the tone so perfectly that each gruesome story feels like a gift.
The Day-Glo production sprawls through the vaults beneath Waterloo, and each 90 minute show only features a third of the entire story, but despite the occasional technical snafu, the inevitable result of running a promenade show on this scale, Goosebumps Alive is an experience you’ll be (literally) dying to take again.