Having had my first taste of some of the more alternative events at last year’s annual Vault Festival in London, most notably Darkfield’s inventive shipping container shows of Séance and Flight and The Tom Sawyer Effect’s multiple reality solo show, The Incubus. I was keen to see what was on the programme for 2020. Since I was at a loose end in central London, I made a last minute booking for The Grim, by the team at Quietly Fighting Theatre.

That’s how I found myself with five other random souls making my way through the impressively graffiti’d tunnel of Leake St in Waterloo to our first stop, a Bao restaurant. To be honest it felt a bit weird at first entering this lively space for a bit of theatre whilst members of the public were eating their dinner. They, no doubt wondering what the hell was going on around them.

I’m going to try and keep this review as spoiler free as possible as the show is still running and I hope may appear at other events in the future. First up was the standard introduction to the show. We were all dead basically and the Grim needed our help as newbies to this part of the afterlife to help track down some souls that should’ve come through, but for some reason hadn’t yet.

One early highlight was, as well as the usual waiver signing, we had to fill out our own death certificates, including our causes of death. I went old school and decided that I’d tragically died in a hot air ballooning accident. Others in our party died from an allergic reaction to jam and another, cheese. Just cheese. No elaboration on whether that was due to eating too much cheese or being hit by a giant truckle at the bottom of that hill they roll one down every year.

What followed was a series of scenes that helped us on our path to find this elusive soul, and in exchange for their name, our own names wouldn’t go in the Grim’s book. For now anyway. This show takes place in a number of different locations around the Waterloo area, some open to the public, others not so, as well as perambulatory scenes played out as we walked from one location to another.

These scenes were all great, initially more light-hearted and fun and despite the limitations of the spaces being used, still added some impressive set design, which really helped with the immersion. Towards the end it did become darker and more serious and the penultimate scene made me feel quite uncomfortable, especially reflecting on some of my actions at the time. I frighteningly, easily fell in to my role, given the build up and the simple addition of a piece of costume to wear.

Hats off to all the actors throughout the show. They responded and ad-libbed brilliantly to our groups responses whilst still maintaining the narrative and progressing the show. I had a really enjoyable 75 minutes or so and for the cost of the ticket, I feel gives great value for a wonderfully fun, inventive, and poignant piece of immersive theatre and takes a promenade piece out and about, sharing the real world of the living. Besides, they couldn’t see us, we were dead remember.

Thanks to the cast and crew of Quietly Fighting Theatre and the team at the Vault Festival. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on any of their future productions.

The Grim runs until 16th February, so just a few days left to experience it.

Author: Steven