- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

Once Upon a Time on Something Street review at Madeira Drive, Brighton – ‘charming immersive show’

Scene from Once Upon a Time on Something Street, Brighton. Photo: Joe Acres

Coming off a bit like a time-hopping EastEnders, this pop-up immersive experience on Brighton seafront doesn’t match up to its ambition, but is still fun.

The brainchild of Joe Acres (who’s had a hand in practically every aspect), Something Street is a purpose-built, covered row of houses and rooms. In groups, we watch vignettes from lives separated by walls but jumbled between decades.

A forgotten street, unmoored from history, is enticing. But Once Upon a Time on Something Street isn’t a Neil Gaiman-style, modern fairytale. From a father-son deathbed confession, to a wartime romance, it’s a fairly earnest show about the preciousness of time.

The acting by the large cast is variable and some of the scenes – with the notable exception of a genuinely funny flat-viewing – tip into hackneyed melodrama. The show, as with much immersive work, also struggles to successfully integrate us in its world.

Ironically, one of Something Street’s most distracting elements is our guides, or ‘Timekeepers’, whose surreptitious signalling to the cast when a scene needs to wrap up is hard to ignore. This particular awareness of time ticking down presumably isn’t intended.

But there’s charm to the basic premise of making every second count, as well as to the makeshift feel of everything. Acres is big enough to include a few wry jokes within the show about chipboard ceilings.

Enthusiasm smooths over many of the rough edges. And with a food-tent and a bar outside, Whizz Bang Productions have turned this stretch of beach into – appropriately – somewhere nice to take time out.

Verdict
Rough around the edges but charming immersive show about the preciousness of time 

Production

Production
Once Upon a Time on Something Street
Venue
Madeira Drive
City
Brighton
Starts
June 1, 2016
Press night
June 2, 2016
Authors
Joe Acres
Director
Joe Acres
Set
Jack White, Joe Acres
Lighting
Jack White, Joe Acres
Sound
Joe Acres
Stage manager
Ashleigh Acres
Cast includes
Allen Watts, Hayley-Jay Morse, Jake White, Jack Darell, Imogen-Rose Crew, Harry Hart, Molly Miles, Mkaya Carrigan, Josh Davis, Jonny Parlett, Gareth Daniel, Sochel Rogers, Rachel Jaap
Producer
Whizz Bang Productions
Running time
1hr