The Viewing At Ninth Life: Immersive Theatre Experience Provides Ample Reason To Visit Catford

The Viewing, Ninth Life ★★★★☆

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The Viewing At Ninth Life: Immersive Theatre Experience Provides Ample Reason To Visit Catford The Viewing, Ninth Life 4
Photo: Ali Wright

South-east London can feel like something of a wasteland when it comes to cultural opportunities, so an experimental immersive theatre experience at a new venue in Catford brings with it a certain amount of intrigue.

The venue is Ninth Life, run by the creatively-inclined Laine Pub Company. It features ambitious artistic elements more associated with summer music festivals: a large community mural, papier mache animal sculptures, an LED hula-hoop act, a pair of walkabout performers dressed as a mad scientist and a genetically-modified shrimp and, on the night we visited, a DJ set from festival favourite Jimmi Needles.

Photo: Ali Wright

The pub’s Artistic Director Dr Claire MacNeill has brought in creative talent from the likes of Boomtown and Wilderness, and improvisers from the Crystal Maze Live Experience, to a huge Victorian bar on an uninspiring corner of a Lewisham trunk road.

Being inexperienced in immersive theatre escape games, and unsure what the typical audience demographic is, the health and safety waiver form we're handed on arrival does little to quell our nerves.

Photo: Ali Wright

We're introduced to Morgan Turnkey, an estate agent with exclusive sales rights to a new development above the pub, and are cast as the potential buyers. We're then whisked through a secret door, Alice in Wonderland-style, into another world, and propelled on an adventure through a labyrinth of magical spaces, each one holding clues to a mystery for us to solve. A cast of brilliant young performers is on hand to either guide or confuse us. The challenge, created by Benjamin Tucker of Buckbuck Games, keeps us enthralled as we work our way through a web of puzzles.

Photo: Ali Wright

The nine spaces, designed by Natasha Coverdale, are lovingly decorated to delight the senses. In one an enormous caged pink fluffy cat purrs seductively. In another — a wood-panelled gin palace — a steam-punk mad-hatter generously offers drinks strong enough to entice even the shyest audience members to discover their theatrical side.

Photo: Ali Wright

The team has done a fantastic job creating a show that brings some wonderful festival magic to the city, and one of the best nights out in Catford... ever.

The Viewing, Ninth Life, 167 Rushey Green, Catford, SE6 4BD. Tickets £25, booking until 29 June 2019 (Friday and Saturday only).

Last Updated 23 April 2019