Interactive and Fusion Entertainment Becoming Big Business in the UK

People across the UK are looking beyond the traditional lines of entertainment where you go to a venue or click on a platform for just one type of experience. Now, the Brits want venues and services that offer a blend, fusion, or interactive offering, almost providing a two-for-one experience. While this has become popular online, it’s clear that London, particularly, is becoming a hotspot for this wave of fusion fun.

An experience beyond a mere restaurant

While restaurants with a music group or even a stage performance have existed in the past, interest in such venues looks to have exploded in London. At the Aeronaut on Action High Street, guests are treated to an exquisite menu that pairs particularly well with the Cirque du Soleil-style performances on stage or can be enjoyed in the main pub, fairground garden, or festival garden. Either way, your pub grub gets stacked up with thrilling entertainment.

If grand circus performances aren’t for you, perhaps some team-building exercises are. At Dans Le Noir, you can venture into workshops to try snacks and drinks in the dark as well as work as a team to get through interactive activities. It’s billed as a “unique sensory experience” and certainly lives up to that billing on St John Street. Alternatively, there’s the Flight Club, which blends eating out with fairground darts.

Perhaps the most eye-catching of these mix-up entertainment and restaurant venues is The Fawlty Towers Dining Experience. An immersive theatre evening and restaurant folded into one, the theme follows one of the best sitcoms of all time with classic gags, iconic characters, and a three-course meal. If you’re not in London, though, performances also take place across the UK and even in Australia.

Blending multiple forms of fun into one

Blending entertainment mediums certainly isn’t a straightforward task, as each type is very distinct in its execution. Still, one of the earliest forms of this format came in the form of interactive fiction books. Novels by nature, you didn’t read through these tomes page by page to read the author’s story; instead, you’d make decisions, flip to different pages, track your progress, and try to make it to an ending, essentially combining gaming with reading.

Bending genres or even mashing them together has become common practice, but distinct types of entertainment have only recently started to be melded together in the world of casino entertainment. In online roulette circles, you can play the classic formats of French, European, or American, but there are also those that combine slots and even celebrity speaker sessions. Both Roulette Mega Moolah and Stories Roulette lead the way in these medium mash-ups of roulette play.

Movies and TV shows are even being “gamified” these days. Given the prestige of the awards recipients of the BFI London Film Festival, you may think that Brits would turn their noses up at such a left-turn from the art of moviemaking, but the interactive content continues to be popular. Some of the big hitters of this fusion between movies and gaming include Possibilia, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and A Week in the Life of Milly. The format has also been expanded to TV series, with spectators deciding how to help Bear Grylls survive in the wild in You vs Wild.

Watch and become part of the performance

The usual experience of going to the theatre is that you take your seat and watch the story unfold. On occasion, someone may get picked out of the crowd, but for the most part, it’s all about watching the performance. Now, there’s immersive theatre, which seeks to get guests into the heart of the action that flows well beyond the boundaries of a stage.

The leading name in immersive entertainment has to be Punchdrunk. Since 2000, the theatre group has been breaking the fourth wall in performances, having its audiences roam from scene to scene – and even within scenes – to get an even more sensory experience of the tale being told. Among its current leading shows are Sleep No More, Shanghai, The Burnt City, and The Third Day: Autumn. However, Punchdrunk isn’t the only one literally sinking the audience into the performances.

One of the most recognizable taking place on Fenchurch Street until the end of May 2023 is Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience. Most know the classic story from H.G. Wells or have seen the Steven Spielberg movies from 2005, which originally featured David Harbor, but in this VR-enhanced musical rendition, you need to escape Victorian London while under Martian occupation. The 24 scenes take you from jump scares to escape routes, and tentacle attacks to hot air balloon rides in the most immersive take on the story yet.

Entertainment that blends two distinctly different activities continues to gain popularity across the UK, and London is certainly reveling in all of the options that have come to the fore in recent years.

Huynh Nguyen

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