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Goosebumps Kids at the Vaults, London – ‘effective immersive theatre’

Goosebumps Kids at the Vaults, London. Photo: Richard Parr Goosebumps Kids at the Vaults, London. Photo: Richard Parr

It was only a matter of time before someone had the idea to explore the true horror potential of immersive theatre. Director and writer Rob Watt has created a children’s show based on RL Stine’s Goosebumps, the hit series of children’s horror fiction from the 1990s. (There’s already a version for adults, Goosebumps Alive, performed at the same venue). Fans will be able to trace six of the original novels within the fabric of this adaptation, and if they are parents themselves, take their kids along to the Museum of the Weird in person.

The best feature of this adaptation is the way it uses the space. The Vaults, beneath London’s Waterloo Station, is the perfect location. Even the derelict, graffitied and debris-strewn entrance adds to the desired effect while the architecture of the venue, enhanced by Samuel Wyer’s labyrinthine set, allows for a genuine promenade experience. Short of a Punchdrunk-level budget, this is a more rough and ramshackle experience, but nevertheless hugely effective on young audiences experiencing non-seated theatre for the first time.

Things that worked well included the sense of adventure, the off-the-cuff humour and the spontaneity of some performers – particularly our woozy and reckless guide Boone (Dylan Tate). But the overall dramaturgy of the piece could have been stronger allowing for more enticing characterization and a more playful management of the fear factor. Though the show might be intended as a chiller, using the opportunity to keep the young audience warm at times would only enhance the effect.

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Children’s horror meets immersive theatre in a perfect location