Grimm Tales: a new production

Over the last few years in London, I’ve been spoilt by challenging, immersive theatre that breaks down the barriers of participants and takes you on a real, physical journey. From You Me Bum Bum Train (I found being pushed around in a shopping trolley and being the centre of every scene a bit too much) to Punchdrunk (I loved wandering around exploring the story at my own pace and the attention to detail in the sets), this is theatre competing for your attention in a world of hyper connectivity, social media, smart phones and sharing.

Grimm Tales is a new production – a theatrical reimagining of author Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old. It’s for age 8 and up.

I’m tempted to take the eight year old, this would be his first immersive theatre experience. He enjoyed a Little Angel puppet theatre show a year ago. I’ve always been slightly resistant to spend a large amount on a theatre ticket with the risk that they might want to leave.

Would it be too scary? Or just the right amount of spine shivers to keep him engaged?

 

 

10/52

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“Upside down, boy you turn me… Inside out, and round and round’. Harper playing upside down games. Can confirm that it’s really weird to watch somebody speaking the wrong way up. Your eyes play tricks on you and you start seeing eyes and a nose on their chin.

Ada being cheery. Lots of laughter at the moment as she becomes more confident and aware of her world.

Part of The Living Arrows and The 52 Project.

Our new ‘London 2012 Olympics’ playground

A brand new playground on our doorstep. The powers-that-be are slowly regenerating the area that housed the Olympic games a couple of summers ago.  The new Queen Elizabeth Park (we still call it the ‘Olympic Park’, I’m not sure that will ever go away) is taking shape, with play areas, parks, new swimming and sports facilities and a river running through the middle of it.

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We’re very impressed with the unique and ‘natural’ children’s playground that’s been designed and built using tree trunks and branches as the main components, as if it had sprung up out of a forest (well, I can wish). Rope bridges are slung between wild-looking turrets, perfect for imaginary play and adventure. There’s rocks to climb on, water and sand to play in and slides to whoosh down.

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It was designed by play space experts Land Use Consultants and Erect Architecture and even includes a piece of art: Heather and Ivan Morrison’s Cross and Cave sculpture, which aims to depict a ‘ruin from the future’. You can watch more about the creation of the piece here:

 

Little details are found underneath walkways, such as these metal canisters which reverberate like bells when struck and piano strings hidden behind textured branches.

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Glimpses of colour in the planting break up the winter leaves.

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You can see the soon-to-be-opened velodrome nearby, with building works still taking place all around.

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Very nearby, the Timber Lodge cafe serves up food and hot drinks throughout the day. We found the service a little shambolic, but perhaps that’s just teething pains.

Tumbling Bay Playground, Queen Elizabeth Park, London

TOP SECRET MEMO (destroy once read)

BRRRPPP… Message incoming! DOT DOT DOT DAASH DAAASSH DASH DOT DOT DOT. Thus sums up my full knowledge of morse code (SOS, in case you were wondering) however, I have now been fully trained up in spy skills at the Secret Agent training Academy and here’s how…

Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, London is a magical place, full of prompts to inspire childrens’ imaginations about reading and stories. It’s all very educational, but the kids will never guess that! On top of it’s permanent spaces, the centre produces a new interactive exhibition a couple of times a year creating an immersive experience where children (and maybe even adults) can lose their inhibitions and get playful. Last time, they had Superheroes – this time, it’s Secret Agents.

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You walk down the steps into what is seemingly an old tube station and get a surprise when you enter – it’s actually a Secret Agent Briefing Room.

There’s lots of important secret agent stuff on the walls.

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We’re told that they need our help.

The evil Dr Iscove has used the Professor Irene Bop’s brilliant mind to create a treasure teleporting machine. He has stolen treasure from around the world, from the Louvre to the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. His next idea is to steal the pocket money of everybody on the planet. Eeeeek! We have to stop him before it’s too late and recover the treasure teleporting machine.

Can we act as secret agents to help crack the code and save the missing scientist?

We enter the elite Secret Agent training academy. We need to learn how to unlock codes, dodge laser beams and make ourselves invisible.

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Once out of the initial briefing, the kids are free to roam and they around the space, looking for clues. Perhaps listening to the call on the telephone, or looking through the binoculars, or clambering through a fireplace. Dare you try and make your way through the tunnel of lasers? What clues might we find in that diamond catalogue on the coffee table?

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We discover the code and enter it into the special machine and we’re successful. We’ve saved everyone’s pocket money!

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There’s lots of little things to amuse and inspire the adults too. I love the typography and wit in these posters dotted around the place.

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Roger that, over and out.

The Secret Agents Spy Academy runs until Sun 31 Aug 2014. Book here.

Disclaimer: I am on the board of trustees for Discover and they did ply me with James Bond-style cocktails on the opening night, but in this no way alters my opinion of the fact that Secret Agents is a must-see