Walking up to the venue for 139 Copeland Road we were suddenly a bit unsure about what we might be getting ourselves into! Taking place in a pair of derelict semi-detached houses on a very inconspicuous street in Peckham, it looks like the last place you’d expect a show to be held but, by the same stroke, is also the perfect location for it!
We started at 137 where we were greeted by one of the two characters that we’d encounter during the evening. He explained the history of the house and the main focus of the night, the fire at 139 in the 1970s that killed a woman and her two children. He believed the house to be haunted as many people had reported experiencing odd things in the house since, hearing noises and such. He then told us that he had hired a medium to try and understand how the tragedy occurred and that we were invited to help with this.
With that, we went next door to 139 where we met the medium and began the process of trying to make contact with the other side!
To say anything else would spoil what happens; especially given the mystery surrounding the event. Suffice to say, if we didn’t encounter anything it’d be a very short review!
First and foremost, the story and the way it unfolded over the course of the event. We’ve got a lot of time for events that have a narrative rather than just chucking out jump scares for the duration. Maybe ghost stories just lend themselves well to these sorts of experiences – there are usually reasons behind the inability or reluctance of spirits to ‘pass over’ and the fun is in unravelling what that is. As well as having an engaging story, the event trod the line between being a piece of immersive theatre and a scare attraction very well – they complemented each other rather than being heavily weighted towards either end of the scale.
This was also the first time attending immersive theatre where we’ve actually felt immersed! After spending ten minutes with the medium we’d forgotten that we were with an actor – the staging, script and the performances themselves all worked together to create a situation that was easy to mistake for being real. And then there was a great third act twist that really pushed the boundary between fiction and reality, definitely didn’t see it coming and was a clever way of selling the proceedings.
And on a more personal level, I can finally understand why characters in horror movies go and investigate the strange noise instead of getting as far away from it as possible! Whenever something would happen, we knew it’d be a bad idea to check it out but with the hints that there was more to the story, we found ourselves eager to do what every frustrated horror movie fan would yell at us not to!
Obviously, we can’t get into it but the ending could be tweaked – it would’ve worked better if certain elements were a bit more understated. And the very end left everyone a bit unsure of what to do next, some way of clarifying this would go a long way.
139 Copeland Road (2016)
I think the best way to describe this succinctly would be to say it’s like a live-action ‘Paranormal Activity’ where instead of watching the story unfold, you're a part of it! We thought it was great fun and something quite refreshing, taking the time to build a story and suspense. As a result of this, we think there’d be some appeal even to people who wouldn't ordinarily opt for a traditional scare attraction.
Ticket Price: £25
Address: 139 Copeland Road, London, SE15 3SN