review | the london dungeons present carnivale

Monday, 18 August 2014


a few weeks back an email dropped in that i would normally laugh at, immediately disregard, and then carry on with my life as if it had never appeared; an invitation to review the london dungeon's newest show, carnivale. soooo not my thing. i don't 'do' tourist attractions. i don't 'do' things that are aimed specifically at children (except... ok, that's a lie), i don't 'do' things that are marketed as being terrifying or scary, or where the staff are enslaved to work in costume outside of the building in which they work. it all sounds ridiculous.

as i was mid doing exactly what i always do with emails like that, i stopped and had a little rethink. the london dungeons are actually something i have been told to go to, by a few people, a few times. i've been actively encouraged to go as part of my london experience, and now, with the offer to head along and save £20 a head, i thought... well, maybe this could be the time. couple that with the fact it was my friend's birthday and he's totally a child in a grown-up's body, i wondered if this might make a pretty fun birthday present for someone in their mid...thirties. ok whatever. it was decided; we were going.

typically, we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the dungeons. we were continually reminded to turn our 'talky boxes and flashy boxes' off, and anyone seen to be using contraband inside the dungeons would be killed by order of the king. yes, it was all very serious. from the minute we walked through the doors into the show, the characters we encountered were incredible. each actor took on the role with gusto and delivered their parts convincingly.

included in the show are two rides; a water ride at the very satrt that takes you 'under the thames', through the underbelly of london's history, and gets you very wet. then there's one at the end of the show; a free fall drop in conjunction with the executioner's explanation of how to "give 'em a good death". yes. because when you're faced with being hung, the three things you want to remember are "wink, wave, and make a funny face".

the show lasted about an hour and a half, and involved a lot of standing around in the dark while audio tapes played sounds of women screaming, men shouting, and icky rat noises in the background. the smell was overpowering. the 34 year old child who accompanied me tells me that smell is what far gas smells like. i... wouldn't know, but i trust him. it was stinky. it wasn't pleasant, and there was no respite for the whole show.

it was super interactive though, which i wasn't expecting. i got picked on a fair bit by the actors, and had to go up on stage and explain why and how i killed a man.... while my friend was put on the stand and accused of being a bearded lady. as well as getting us physically involved, there were lots of little touches (literally - stop touching me!) that made it all extra creepy; in sweeny todd's barber shop we were sat in individual chairs that obviously had speakers built into them, and as the lights went out and we were encouraged to "hide" from him, the sounds of scissors snipping were played into our ears while we were prodded in the back through the chairs.

i mean, a lot of work has gone into making this show happen. the kids in our group absolutely loved it. we really enjoyed it too - there were moments of "what are we doing here?", but there were also moments of genuine laughter and having a good time. we learned a fair bit about the history of a lot of those things we all know happened in london. guy fawkes. jack the ripper. sweeny todd. the actors in their characters were just incredible. they're not just people hired to do a job, like the cashiers are. these guys are genuine actors who appear to really love what they do. i reckon the show was worth it just to see these guys in action.

so, the verdict? it was a lot of fun, and a nice way to kill a few hours. if you've got kids and are made of money (or manage to get discounted tickets or something like that), then i would absolutely recommend going. it's something i would never have done on my own (i am shit scared of the dark)(and ghosts), so i'm glad i had someone to go with who i knew would enjoy it even if i didn't, which, as it turns out, i did anyway.

have you been along to the new carnivale show? leave your thoughts below!

11 comments:

  1. So funny to be asked to blog about somewhere you're not allowed to take photos in .. eh?!! :D
    I went to the London Dungeons as part of a school trip when I was about 15 and I was so scared I hid in the gift shop for the whole trip .. what a wuss!

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  2. This looks like so much fun, I love these kinds of places. Am happy you enjoyed it. Will have to go to one myself soon :) x

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  3. Ohhh, I'd love to try the London Dungeons! I went to York Dungeons years ago and loved it, although it definitely scared me more than a little. Next time I'm in London, I'll try this xx

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  4. I've got to admit, having done the dungeons in York and being pleasantly surprised by the show, I've always dismissed the idea of doing another as I assumed they'd be pretty similar.

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  5. I actually shivered reading some of this, I am TERRIBLE with any kind of horror attraction...Saw the maze ride at thorpe park landed me in trouble for swinging for one of the actors when he grabbed me (which apparently they're not meant to do!). MY nephew desperately wants me to take him to the dungeons but I think I'd end up crying!


    hannah bee xxxx

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  6. i honestly thought i'd be terrified... go with a boy, it makes it easier. i swear.

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  7. well, this is a brand new 'show', so... who knows! i'd never been before, so was good for a first timer!

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  8. i know! i love a free event x

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  9. you definitely should! book in advance though, the lines were loooooong.

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  10. do! i think you'd really like it :)

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