Review: Dark Carnival @ Old Vic Tunnels

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 166 months ago

Last Updated 21 August 2010

Review: Dark Carnival @ Old Vic Tunnels

Bernadette Byrne of EastEnd Cabaret
Its that time of year again in London and the week before the mother of all carnivals takes over Ladbroke Grove, the Old Vic Tunnels are hosting Dark Carnival, a festival of performance art in its many forms. This event has been put together by a talented bunch of 16-25 year old volunteers who are part of a new scheme which hopes to give them a non-traditional route into all areas of theatre work including front-of-house, marketing and production. With a nifty website designed by one of the volunteers, this is an event which celebrates their efforts this year in helping to bring about shows like the Slapdash festival of improv comedy and the play Ditch.

The Dark Carnival itself encourages the audience to move around the Old Vic Tunnels experiencing the art that they come across. At one table, the performance poet Andreas Grant asks us to sit down and gives us a personal reading from a menu of various themes. Being soppy souls, we opt for romance and are then treated to a couple of minutes of live poetry as Andreas recites with brio and without notes a poem he wrote on the topic.

At another table, EastEnd Cabaret's bizarre Bernadette Byrne and the slightly stranger Victor Victoria take a break from their musical sideshow to treat us to a fortune reading* using a pack of Uno cards. Elsewhere, a trio of actors take over a small space and a chair to give us a story of sexual persuasion (and, yes, that is a gun in his pocket).

Aside from this, there's physical theatre, at least one live band, a tree of bunting dedicated to "lost things" and a metaphysical travel agency. We're sure we missed some of the artists as we wandered around but there's plenty to see and do in arguably the coolest performance space in London.

Roll up and head down to the Tunnels tonight for the second coming of the Dark Carnival. Tickets are £9 (£6 concessions), £1 of which goes to the charity The Railway Children. As an added bonus, Red Light Night kicks off in the same venue promising extra performances and a bar until "late".

Breaking news: the carnival is sold out for tonight. Dark news indeed for those without tickets...


The Dark Carnival website includes a full listing of all the artists involved.

Our review of July's Slapdash festival

Our review of Ditch back in May

Photo (c) Franco Milazzo

* Apparently, this Londonista is in for three mediocre days and a great night which will feature no sex. Plus ça change...