When asked what I was doing for Halloween, the expected answer was this party or that club or a promenade between the two. When my response was, “I’m going to an immersive theatre night in the Old Woolworths building on the Moor,” I was met with, well, confusion mostly. Then questions about whether it was ‘am dram’, what was it about and what exactly is this immersive theatre lark? At the time I didn’t know what to expect so I had few answers, but now I do:
There was nothing amateur in that building.
It’s not the kind of theatre that is structured in a plot I can tell you about, but it’s thought provoking, scary and funny all at once. This immersive theatre lark might be my new favourite thing.
That probably doesn’t help you understand what Horror Souk is actually like, but there’s a limited amount of information that I can give you because the experience will be damaged by spoilers. I can tell you that there are in fact eight different performances going on in the building, each unique and fascinating developed exclusively for Horror Souk by new and emerging artists from around the North of England.
Forest Sounds’ ‘Did You Call the Police?’ is my stand out pick. It was an intense experience that combined lighting effects, recordings, live action and brilliant audience control to produce a work that was tense and exciting to be a part of whilst making and inviting intelligent political and social comment. If you see a police officer wandering around the building, follow him.
‘My Brain is a Radio’ by Laura Murphy was also a stunner, with an exploration of anxiety disorder through a narration from a hypnotherapist’s perspective and aerial rope work. Murphy’s performance was both spectacular and remarkably intimate, combining the sense of physical risk and psychological danger with apparent ease whilst creating enough suspense that you could have heard a pin drop.
Add to those a team murder mystery game by Frolicked investigating the deaths of local rats, a tour of the sprawling, dark basement with hip hop theatre group Rationale and PunKTure’s hilarious and creepy Sunny Meadows psychiatric facility and you’re in for a delicious treat. That’s not even all of the performances either. Perhaps the best recommendation I can give Horror Souk is that I’m going twice because I’d hate to miss any of it.
The last and unlisted performance is that of the building itself. Poorly lit corridors, mysterious messages on the walls, cordoned off rooms. It’s a character in and of itself. Simply wandering around and soaking it all up got the atmosphere seeping into the consciousness.
Horror Souk is on everyday apart from Sunday until 22 November. Don’t miss it.
Words and Photos: Sara Hill.