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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

The Great Masked Ball

Tonight S and I donned our best masks and finery and headed off to The Great Masked Ball.

This Swan Lake-themed immersive theatre and dining experience was one S stumbled across via those kind folks at Design My Night. In the vein of so many of these sort of events, we received instructions and invitations in-keeping with the theme. Letters were sent out from “The Queen” inviting us to a masked ball where her son Prince Siegfried would choose a bride.

The overarching story is Swan Lake and the event warns guests to be prepared for an adventure into the forest in a “fairytale with a debauched twist” as the Black Swan and the White Swan wait just outside the palace doors.

What does one wear to such an event? My plan had been to don a tails coat and wing collar, but it was pushing 30 degrees and my tails coat weighs a ton. I erred on the side of “debauched” and went with a black shirt undone to about the navel and a white formal jacket which I really cannot remember the origin of. S looked every bit the dark fairytale enchantress in a black bat-themed dress and midnight blue feather mask.

We followed the instructions to the secret location and after following a few others in similarly opulent attire we arrived at our destination.

But there is one problem when it comes to blogging about something like this. No photos. And we’ve been asked to keep the secrets.

So what can I say without spoiling the fun for those of you who may be yet to attend? Well, the food is made by Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and the setting for the evening was designed by Darling and Edge, who created the set for Beauty and the Feast and The Alice’s Adventures Underground Bar. So the inside is opulent and lush. There is a bohemian vibe, which means you can get away with wearing anything from full black tie formality to more outrageous attire.

The food is excellent, the bars are fully stocked with a range of drinks to suit every taste and, if you are so inclined, you can make friends with those you are sharing a table with.

A few quick tips: If you are sitting in the VIP seats be prepared (and willing) to get involved. If you are not but still want to get involved then it is easy to do, just throw yourself into it. Keep your eyes open, the story unfurls quite quickly around you. Don’t worry about where you are sat for foo, you won’t miss anything. And, above all, have fun.

Like all of these event, you get out what you put in. We got on famously with one of the performers who kept dropping by for an in-character chat.

The cross-section of people in attendance was interesting. The mix of an immersive event (of the type which are all the rage at the moment) and Swan Lake draws a full range of spectators, all of whom want something different from the evening. S put it best; it was not unlike a theatre crowd in the West End.

Towards the end the evening take a turn towards a very specific sort of entertainment (one which you should not be surprised by considering the Swan Lake overtones) and it was interesting to see some people become less engaged when that happened.

Shortly after 10pm we stumbled out into the dark night air. The tent was very warm and the breeze outside was very welcome. We had music humming in our ears as we skipped back towards the station, tired and hot but having had a brilliant time.

#theatre #personal

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