“Immersive theatre productions tend to operate in dynamically fluid settings, allowing the audience a more active, voyeuristic, and central role, while also individualizing their experiences” (Adam Green). Now the last time you were sitting in a pub you may not have considered it to be a theatrical experience, so this is a possibly a new interpretation.
The Parlour Bar is well worth a visit in its own right, but the venue also plays host to the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge, a varied programme of lectures and discussions led by prominent figures.
You may be more familiar with 1 Royal Circus as an elegant guest house, but for a few days only Hendrick’s convert it into their Parlour Bar. As you approach the venue you will see a large converted motor home parked in the street artistically adorned with the bizarre designs associated with Hendrick’s. This is the Mobile Academy of Alchemical Meanderings, otherwise lovingly known as MAAM. It’s used as a hospitality base and training centre but Fringe visitors are welcome to see how it has been beautifully refurbished.
The main building has become a homely hostelry and delightful departure from the modern pub. It reminds us immediately of a more elegant age. Some of the furnishings belong to the house but the majority have been brought in specifically to create the Victorian atmosphere. Smartly costumed hosts greet guests with impeccable courtesy and suitably archaic modes of address and conversation. Thus your immersion commences. The centre of this ‘fluid setting” is, of course the dispensing counter, behind which are the fully equipped bartenders who in our modern age are grandiosely known as mixicologists. Immaculately dressed in black and white they stand ready to prepare everything from the simplest gin and tonic, which, as it’s Hendrick’s, is always served with cucumber, to the most complex cornucopia of cocktails, all made to order thus “individualizing” you experience.
Now you are ready for the “more active, voyeuristic, and central role.” Begin by sipping on you chosen libation and then take a perfectly cut triangular quarter of cheese and cucumber sandwich, of which there are plenty to enjoy, minus their crusts, all proffered by one of the maids from a formal three tiered stand. Sit, if you wish, in the centre of the room on the elegant “conversation” seat, back to back with fellow patrons, from where you can eavesdrop on others, admire the porcelain and china and wonder at the craft of the taxidermist.
The Parlour Bar is well worth a visit in its own right, but the venue also plays host to the Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge, a varied programme of lectures and discussions led by prominent figures. I am most grateful to Hendrick’s and Duncan in particular for having me as their guest and from now on I shall be popping out in the evenings for more “immersive theatre” experiences and maybe also visit one of the chief exponents of the genre, ironically called Punchdrunk!