There were screams. Something had gone wrong, and we knew it. In the panic we were all separated. Those of us who followed the Captain thought for sure we would be safe, but we were wrong.
I stick close by my friend in the darkness, and we are led into a room that must have been the facility canteen, but it’s dark and all I can see are tables and chairs and trays of uneaten food strewn about. Lights flicker on, and I realise now that everything is smeared in blood. There is a barricade against the door that could have led us to safety, and above that door ominous words of warning have been scrawled in blood.
Welcome to the apocalypse. Here humanity is hanging off the edge of extinction and the streets of London have become a hunting ground for the undead. The human race is finished, but we have managed to escape, and in response to an evacuation beacon we have gathered in the basement of a derelict secure facility in hopes that we will be rescued.
If it told you any more, it would blatantly be spoilers.
The Generation of Z is a promenade performance, a heady mix of raw, street-smart theatre combined with the immersive experience of being thrown right into the centre of the action.
The concept of the show, written by Benjamin Farry, Simon London and David Van Horn, has travelled across the globe from New Zealand, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and now we have our very own zombie apocalypse happening in the East End of London.
It’s a wild ride of blood-gushing, chainsaw-slinging, gun-toting madness. You won’t be ordering your Haagen-Dazs at half time here. The whole performance takes a little over one hour in total, and though I personally thought it could have been longer, it is one hour entirely on your feet, except for the odd occasion when you are kneeling with your hands above your head at gun point. Each room in the labyrinth of Department W has been meticulously converted into a detailed set that plays to all your senses – there is even fresh blood dripping down the walls.
I cannot imagine how hard it is for an actor to keep the whole audience engaged when they are not only loitering in the middle of your stage, but are essentially extras in your cast that need to be constantly stimulated. At times this strain does show, but for the audience who do engage, it really is fun. I had the opportunity to save someone’s life by switching over an oxygen tank – only to watch him brutally murdered a few minutes later.
What sets The Generation of Z apart from every other immersive performance I have been to is the dedication to the storytelling and character development. Each of the characters comes up against his or her own struggle. Link, the innocent and fearful solider, is through circumstance driven to bravery, a quality in turn overcome by the stronger will to survive and stick to the protocol she has been drilled with.
Meanwhile Frosty, as her name suggests, was a bit of a hard-ass the first time we ran into each other, and although I don’t know much of what happened to her for the following fifty minutes, by the end of the show she was a blithering mess.
This show is likely to infect you, not with a killer virus, but with the intense desire to return and see more. As the story progresses, you will realise there are at least four separate storylines you could have pursued, depending on which character you followed.
So find yourself a human shield and get down to Mile End for your own zombie apocalypse! It is guaranteed to be a great night out for the lads or the ladies, and a perfect opportunity for all you boys to invite that girl out on a date – she’ll be sure to spend the whole evening pressed up next to you out of sheer terror.
Generation of Z will be in residence at Department W from April 4th until July 5th and I hear that for the next two weeks (Until May 3rd) there will be discounted ticket up for grabs at £25. Prices start at £27.50 thereafter.
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