Shotgun Carousel offers a highly imaginative and dark retelling of some classic fairytales.

(c) Nic Kane Photography.

Those stepping in to The Vaults for Shotgun Carousel’s deliciously dark piece of immersive theatre should expect the unexpected with its range of quirky characters that they encounter while wondering around each uniquely designed space.

Taking inspiration from the carnivals of Venice as well as the darkness of the Grimm Brother’s fairytales, Red Palace invites guests to join the Prince in an evening of fantasy at a masked ball and meet a variety of different characters who are not all that they appear. Wondering around a variety of rooms that have been uniquely designed by Maeve Black, audiences discover characters such as a ditzy mermaid trying to find her one true love while trapped in a steam bath or Red who has got a serious grudge against the Prince.

Written by Cressida Peever, the structure of the piece is very loose that while allowing the audience to explore in their own way can be slightly confusing to keep up with what is exactly happening. There doesn’t seem to be a strong enough clarity as to what Red Palace is attempting to do – except perhaps allowing the female characters from popular fairytales to take centre stage in a more contemporary way.

This being said, the cast and characterisations are deliciously witty and sharp – everyone truly embraces the gothic nature of Red Palace that it is difficult not to be swept away by it all. This is helped by Celine Lowenthal’s direction which suitably keeps the audience intrigued throughout with its chilling atmosphere and the thoroughly effective use of lighting and sound. But it is Maeve Black’s designs that particularly delight – filled with texture and individuality each space designed represents the character beautifully – particularly with regards to Snow’s boudoir, while the music in each room ranged from contemporary to classical depending on the personality.

There is certainly great potential for Red Palace – it is deliciously dark and filled with great characters – but it just needs a bit of a tighter script and stronger sense of purpose overall to give it a stronger presence. A great concept for an immersive experience though.

By Emma Clarendon

Red Palace continues to play at The Vaults until the 12th January.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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