Any fringe theatre-goer who’s been around London a bit will surely have been to a pub theatre. It’s a custodial London tradition if you’re a fringe-lover to cram yourself into a sweaty (if it’s hot) or drafty (if it’s cold) black (ish) box, and to try to concentrate on the art whilst simultaneously listening to doors banging, punters yelling and the general debauchery of the pub below. But why is all the ‘fun’ taking place downstairs? What if the night out at the theatre was in the lively, roomy bar saloon and not crammed somewhere in the dark and out of sight?
Part of the Night is a new series from female-led Part of the Main theatre company, which puts the theatre back in the pub. Your ticket is checked from the front door and then you are free to get a drink and walk around as you please. The performance comes to you. Right up close and in your face, literally. It makes audience, performers and even those behind the bar “part of the night”.
The performance comes to you. Right up close and in your face, literally
In another twist, the three works at this inaugural night were devised in the pub just the day before. This is immersive, sight specific pub theatre in one of London’s oldest theatre pubs – and it’s more than engrossing enough to make you look up from your pint and packet of crisps.
Part of the Main already have already earned a reputation for making theatre that is female-led and tonight is no exception with all writing and performing teams being female. Two short plays and a musical that can’t have been more than five minutes show off their talents to think and write on the fly, and they all use the pub setting to great effect. The pub is almost a character in itself. The first sees us overhear a conversation between a gangster and their next potential member, the second follows two students on a night out just trying to make some extra cash and finally, we become inadvertent parts of a couple’s real-life role play game.
the pub is almost a character in itself
Each unique and box-fresh piece is a microcosm of the power of theatre, and the joy of sharing it with the warm embrace of an appreciative, receptive fringe-theatre audience who are keen to enjoy and to play. The impact of performing to and with an audience who can all look you, and each other, in the eye should not be underestimated! I would like to see any future teams be brave and play more with this community-focussed immersive element. One small note – it’s a pity the singers were limited by the reach of their microphones!
makes you feel part of something
Theatre with the lights on makes you feel part of something, instead of being kept in the dark. I would love to see more from Olivia Munk and Jessica Bickel-Barlow and be a part of their night.