Behind the scenes at Goosebumps Alive

Date Posted: 07/04/2016

Louise Joy recently headed down to London to get a sneak peek behind the scenes of new immersive theatre show, Goosebumps Alive – here’s what she thought.

Since I’m a big fan of horror and immersive theatre experiences, I jumped at the chance to attend the preview of Goosebumps Alive – the new show that combines the two at The Vaults in London from this month onwards.

I was also a big Goosebumps fan as a child so I was definitely intrigued to see not only how these children’s books were being brought to life, but how they were being turned into a show for adults.

It turns out, there’s a lighter version for children, but it was the adults-only show I was most intrigued in finding out about at the press night.

Director and writer Tom Salamon explained that when he was approached about the idea of taking Goosebumps to the stage, he was at first tempted to decline as he didn’t feel he was the right person to create a kid’s show and that it wasn’t really his thing. Thus he went on to comment that the adults show is a lot darker, with more blood, more gore, more swearing and more scares.

Walking on a brief tour around the set as it was still being made confirmed his earlier comments to me. In one room, wispy dark corn was set up to recreate a scene involving a scarecrow. Judging by the design drawings I saw of said scarecrow, I knew this scene would be particularly scary, even if all I could see of it so far were the drawings and the corn.

We had the chance to experience one scene taking place in an oversized tent. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will talk about the attention to detail here. It was just like we’d set up a tent in our back garden, complete with lumpy and uneven ground and the sound of the outside world surrounding us.

I particularly liked getting a preview of this scene as it tapped in to what Goosebumps is all about – those fears you have when you are a child that seem so silly once you are grown up. Of course now, as an adult, I wouldn’t get scared of creatures that may or may not exist outside of my tent on a camping trip.

However, when we were led silently into the tent and settled down to get comfy and hear the story of a young girl and why she was hiding out in said tent, I noticeably felt on edge. Perhaps it was the excellent acting of the girl who drew us in or the sound effects of the wind whistling around us that helped to set the scene, but the point is, I no longer felt like I was in a makeshift tent in The Vaults underground.

I felt like I was a little kid again, hiding out in my backyard, suddenly feeling not-so-brave with the sounds that took place around me, with just a thin sheet protecting me from whatever was out there.

And then there were the monsters. We had a chance to see some of the costumes and masks that will be used throughout the show and I’ve got to say, it didn’t ruin the surprise one bit. If anything, I’m more eager to discover how each creature fits in and what their story is.

Just, maybe, not the scarecrow.

Vaults director Kieron Vanstone spoke to me about the use of the masks in the show. He explained how they were designed in a specific that way so that when you used your hand to control them, they made a creepy almost quiet clicking sound which would no doubt be scary to hear in the dark.

Many of the theatrical team have worked on other popular projects in London, also. Designer Samuel Wyer has also worked on the hugely successful Alice’s Adventures Underground, which took place at The Vaults last year. Costume Designer Susan Kulkarni is also known for her work with Secret Cinema.

Oh, and the drinks were served in measuring cylinders, much like those used by perhaps a mad scientist – which was a lovely touch.

Goosebumps Alive is at The Vaults from 14th April and will run until September. Tickets are available now at www.goosebumpsalive.com.

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