Lola's Underground Casino At The Hippodrome Is A Malfunctioning Letdown
The Hippodrome has made great fanfare of the 'groundbreaking new installation' that is Lola's Underground Casino, promising 'an innovative new take on entertainment'. Along with a 'bloody expensive' high-tech screen wrapped around the back of the newly erected stage, they have partnered with prestigious production house Strut & Fret, renowned for circus sensations LIMBO and Cantina. A recipe for success? In reality, far from it.
The three theatrical themes for the pop-up programme — James Bond, Las Vegas and Circus — are well worn, and much of the entertainment is similarly predictable. Showgirls performing simplistic choreography, a magician whose old school tricks are let down by underwhelming presentation, and a singer who — while vocally excellent — sacrifices storytelling for acrobatics.
The acts are plagued by technical issues with the temperamental screen, on which the promised innovation depends. There are several heart-sinking restarts and menu resets required, which makes the repeated display of The Bar Has Been Raised increasingly embarrassing.
There are moments of convincing entertainment. Storm Hooper provides an accomplished, athletic finale with dazzling hoop tricks, cleverly enhanced by the screen behind her in a rare moment of technical harmony. Rod Laver, award winning ping pong juggler and card launcher extraordinaire, is skilful and engaging; not faultless on this occasion, but a quality addition.
Hand-balancer Felipe Reyes, and an aerial hoop performer, are clearly skilled artistes, but inhibited by their confined surroundings and the proximity of patrons. The low ceilings also present an issue for aerial and hoop work, which suppresses the level of drama these acts usually create.
The Hippodrome is intent on branding this new installation as a 'breathtaking' reboot of their entertainment programme. Unfortunately, the only reboot on show is the attempt to get the largely superfluous technology working.
Lola's Underground Casino, The Hippodrome, Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, WC2H 7JH, free entry. From 21 May
Last Updated 22 May 2019