dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Red Palace review at the Vaults, London – ‘smart, sexy immersive theatre’

Shotgun Carousel's Red Palace at the Vaults, London. Photo: Nic Kane
by -

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death – with some twisted fairytales thrown into the mix – Red Palace invites attendees to explore the halls of a tyrant prince at his masquerade ball.

Shotgun Carousel has expanded for its sophomore show after last year’s immersive dining cabaret, Divine Proportions. An optional immersive dining element has been introduced within the bigger show. This is a smart decision. Though there are actors doing walkabouts, the focus is on the truly excellent spread by MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie. The optional element also allows for price differentiation – a welcome approach to making immersive theatre more accessible – it’s £18 without food on a Wednesday.

After dinner guests explore the palace, where each room feels distinct and detailed, and is well supported by clever sound and light design. The whole cast is excellent; convincing, quick-witted, and charming. Particularly impressive are Emer Dineen as Dietrich-esque cabaret star Gretel, and Steffi Walker as a lovelorn but carnivorous mermaid.

Immersive theatre allows audience members to play with their identities for a few hours, and Cressida Peever’s script has fun getting a little meta about this. There is also plenty of enjoyable skewering of the heteronormative, patriarchy-friendly history of fairytales in Celine Lowenthal’s show.

Some small elements are a little rough around the edges, and a slightly longer final scene would up the emotional payoff, but this only very gently detracts from a show that is progressive in its goals, full of excellent performances, and a lot of fun. It’s refreshing to see an immersive theatre company questioning what stories should be told, and how.

Safety and immersive theatre: where should the boundaries be set?

Want to continue reading?
Support The Stage with a subscription

We believe in fair pay for everyone who works in the arts, and that includes all our journalists and the whole team who create The Stage each week.

As a family-run, independently-owned publication, we rely on our readers' subscriptions to pay journalists to produce the informed and in-depth articles you want to read.

The Stage will always strive to report on great work across the country, champion new talent and publish impartial investigative journalism. Our independence allows us to deliver unbiased reporting that supports the performing arts industry, but we can only do this with your help.

Continue reading our quality content and support its creation with a subscription from just £4.49 →
Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
A sexy, smart immersive show that asks important questions with charm and irreverence
^