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?




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.


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!


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

Is it a Book or a Bed?

Much debate currently in the news about whether children should be allowed in museums following an art-accidentally-used-as-soft-play incident at the Tate Modern. Cue Kids in Museums waving the child-friendly flag and some other curmudgeonly types saying ‘Shhh! Children should be seen and not heard!‘. Not in Peckham though – see here cousin babies Olaf and Ada Ngaio playing happily on a giant book-shaped bed, aka the Bookbed.

Created by artist Ruth Beale (name not just a coincidence, she’s my talented sister) at the Peckham Platform in South London, Bookbed invites you to explore the library in the context of 21st century technologies with a giant bed as it’s centrepiece (that you can lie on, take in the world, read a book). You can have a go at the creative writing challenges using the ‘self-publishing station’ of an old fashioned typewriter, read books from the shelves, join in with workshops and talks, or, if you are a book group, use the space for free during the period of the exhibition.