The Neath – Thursday 23rd February

Wow… it’s been a while. The last month has been completely mental at work, so I’ve rather neglected writing – though handily I took some notes at a few bits and bobs so I’ll be writing them up eventually.

First up, I got together with my theatre chums for The Neath – one of the key immersive events at the Vault Festival, which came with quite a buzz about it, a simple but rather clever little website, and a production team with a decent pedigree (The Crystal Maze and Time Run for starters). So everything was looking good.

An immersive bar, with Azazael as the landlord, The Neath is a place somewhere between the mortal realm and hell, filled with regulars with stories to tell, where we would have to confess our sins, complete mini-quests, and find seven goblets (one for each sin) in order to gain our collective freedom.

Overall, the theming and styling were good, and the performers were incredibly committed and strong improvisers – though I did hear a couple of folk complain that some of them were intimidating or aggressive. Which brings me on to the next point – the level of expected participation was high. The concept worked, but only if you were brave, as it really required you to seek out answers, go on quests, and initiate conversations. I’m not too shy with these things, and have long advocated Punchdrunk’s “your bearing shapes your fate” mantra. But after someone had found a goblet and been pulled on stage to confess her sin, where she loudly and proudly announced she’d slept with a married vicar, I wasn’t particularly keen to find the next one.

The other issue I had, was that the audience size was a touch too large – we spent a lot of the evening literally queuing up for a series of one-on-one experiences. Ideally, it needed more to do and see that wasn’t one-on-one.

And really, in my opinion, it was a little too expensive for what it was – especially as as soon as it started you were ushered to the bar to buy drinks. I do appreciate that the ticket price (£25) allowed you to return as often as you wanted throughout the run, but that probably also impacted on audience experience – the later in the run you visited, the greater the potential returning audience members, therefore the longer you’d be queueing for your experiences. And returning visitors would have a better idea of how it worked, know who to talk to, where to stand etc and potentially rob new audience members of those experiences. A ticket around £15 with no return visits would have felt more appropriate.

It had real potential, and (especially as I work in events and look after budgets and ticket sales) I totally understand the commercial pressures – we’ve all seen shows we loved close because they weren’t financially viable – however on this occasion it felt like they’d sacrificed audience experience, and for me it was a step too far.

Sorry. I really wanted to love it.

Happy thoughts – Wednesday 1st March

  • One of my favourite human beings is in London this weekend – was in touch with the gorgeous Mairead this morning to arrange seeing her on Sunday and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was an incredibly long day, and very stressful, so having something to look forward to definitely helped!
  • When I did finally leave the office, the husbear let me know there was a surprise waiting for me – a whole box of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. It’s the simple things…
  • MORE PANCAKES! (It was a long day. Forgive me the repetition).

Happy thoughts – Tuesday 28th February

  • It was a super long day at work, and very stressful, but made slightly better by coming home to hubby and soup and a shoulder rub. I literally couldn’t do my job without a stable home life when I leave the office. Or if I did, I’d be eating a LOT of takeaway and getting very podgy.
  • New Walking Dead and Girls. I’ve used these before, but I’m clutching at straws.
  • PANCAKES! Scotch ones of course. None of your thin rubbish where they’re lukewarm and clammy by the time you’ve finished tossing – it’s all about the fat, buttery, slightly crispy variety.

Happy thoughts – Monday 27th February

  • Today didn’t suck. I fully expected it to be a big steaming pile, and it wasn’t. I’m counting that.
  • Moonlight won the Best Picture Oscar! I haven’t actually seen it yet, but from every review I’ve watched or read, it seems to be well deserved, but somewhat unexpected with La La Land as the favourite.
  • Dev Patel attending the Oscars with his mum and in awe of his Lion co-star is possibly one of the cutest things to have ever happened in Hollywood. I mean, LOOK AT THEM!

Read the full story… 

Happy thoughts – Sunday 26th February

  • First things first, I didn’t have to work – I had offered, but was let off the hook. A nine and a half hour sleep was mine!
  • I worked out. It was tough. It hurt. It really sucked. But I did it. Having had a busy week, and working on Saturday, it was a full week since my last workout, and I was really starting to feel like I hadn’t spent any time on “me”, so for all it was one of the most physically difficult workouts I’d done in a long time, it was one of the most mentally satisfying.
  • We went to the Tate Modern. It’s round the corner from the flat, but sometimes years pass between visits as we just take it for granted. We only did a couple of of the rooms, but we’re really lucky to have it on our doorstep and to be able to drop in like that. I appreciate London’s free museums and galleries all the more after my recent visit to New York where nearly every museum or gallery is $25.

Happy thoughts – Saturday 25th February

Despite getting up at 6.20am for work, today was not the car crash I thought it would turn out to be. The work bit wasn’t ideal, but actually, everything else has been pretty good.

  • Firstly, my heroic hubby got up super early to make me breakfast before I headed off to work on site at one of our events. Also pretty miraculous was the fact that I was only due to be working this morning, and actually only worked the morning – usually me being due to finish about 12.30pm would result in me finally leaving at 4 or later. But I managed to get away and home by 1pm, where heroic hubby had lunch waiting for me.
  • I’m usually first to joke about how rubbish Scotland’s various teams are at sports, so it’s a great day when we win – and today was that day, as we beat Wales 29-13 in the Six Nations. The first time we’ve beaten them in 10 years, and we actually deserved the win – it wasn’t just that Wales messed up and Scotland got lucky, we actually outplayed them for the entirety of the second half.
  • Finally watched The Theory of Everything. It came with high expectations, but it didn’t disappoint. I expected to bawl through it, but despite some pretty serious subject matter and sad moments, it also had plenty of uplifting moments and although Eddie Redmayne was good, it was really Felicity Jones’ film.

 

Happy thoughts – Friday 24th February

  • I had a truly lousy day at work yesterday, so treated myself to some sushi for lunch. And then that was a little disappointing, so I treated myself to Lindt’s sea salt dark chocolate. THAT helped. (Though it still got worse before I left at the end of the day).
  • The day was, however, beautiful. Bright blue skies and sun. It was cold and windy, but who cares when it’s so pretty outside?
  • When I finally got home, I was so flipping appreciative of an evening in, a lovely dinner, and watching a couple of episodes of Shameless – and they were GREAT episodes – and then going to bed early. For the sake of these thoughts being happy, I’ll gloss over the fact that the early night was because I was due up at 6.20am for work. On a Saturday.