Review: VEGETABLES, Secret Location In Clerkenwell

A new secret immersive show has hit London.

By: Jun. 13, 2024
Review: VEGETABLES, Secret Location In Clerkenwell
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This is a spoiler-free review.

Review: VEGETABLES, Secret Location In Clerkenwell Either the immersive industry is floundering, or the craze has passed. Only last year, the most simple in-the-round staging was deemed immersive. These days, we’ve returned to a reduced scene, with only Punchdrunk hitting the news and Phantom Peak continuing its winning streak.

Something smaller and more enigmatic has opened in London. Tucked away in a secret location in the heart of Clerkenwell, Vegetables is a weird one. The production is shrouded in mystery, with the address given only upon booking and its exact plot begged to be kept hush-hush in the press. The gist is that people’s consciousness can now be transferred into everyday veggies to cure all maladies mental and physical; we are the first to witness this new scientific advancement.

The show is the self-described product of Black Mirror et al. It could be a reflection on pseudoscience and gullibility that explores the dark sides of medical exploitation and selfishness, but it remains a bonkers curiosity. It’s a different night out, but, frankly, not one worth 40 quid. It comes down to the background story that props up the experience, which could be fleshed out more to deliver valid motives. A deeper understanding of the fictional science involved in the experiment would help too, but, so far, it's a solid springboard for more accurate work that might come later.

This is the kind of project we may have once seen at VAULT Festival (RIP), with the vibes of the long lost showcase echoing within the dingy basement where Vegetables is located. While more excavation is needed to find what the company actually want to say, Nathan Ess offers a very cool setup alongside designer Ellie Koslowsky. This is the director's first venture into theatre, but you wouldn't be able to tell. Each room is filled with knickknacks and gimmicks that beg you to grab and play with them (but you can’t touch anything - a woman in our group was quietly reprimanded when she started rummaging through some papers).

In regards to the immersive nature, the excellent design choices that welcome the crowd are enough in this day and age to make the piece belong to the genre. Without revealing anything, they went full out with the space - we just wished we had more time to explore on our own and truly get to appreciate the antechambers with all their nooks and crannies. Other than the installation, the actors may speak directly to a specific member of the audience if willing, but you mainly promenade or sit and listen. 

All in all, yes, it’s gently entertaining and visually titillating, but it’s still light years away from the prospects it promises. Its maximum potential might be easily unlocked with another run and a more extensive look at the (un)ethical side of the narrative because, as it is, it doesn’t really leave you with too much to ponder. It’s fun at times and mostly harmless, but it could be so much more.

Vegetables runs at a secret location in Clerkenwell until 23 June.


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