Joe's NYC Bar

Immersive Joe’s NYC Bar returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with two shows a day at Assembly Underground. The audience arrives at the venue and begin to queue outside for the experience of being transported to Brooklyn dive bar Joe’s. Coming out to his queuing punters, Gabriel the owner welcomes the mob with a charismatic talk on bar etiquette - the “don’t be a dick” talk - and we are then plunged into the anarchic dim-lit, grungy, converted-warehouse feeling Joe’s. Decorated with old brick, huge collages of vintage posters, and political graffiti reminders such as “Power to the People”.

Joe’s NYC Bar has the opportunity to open up political and philosophical debates that hold potential to create a genuine impact on its participants.

Blended in with the audience, dotted about at the bar and on tables are actors; we have the angsty barmaid, Gabe’s sleazy brother, and some eccentric regulars mooching around. The format of the show is essentially drinking, watch some live music, and talk. These talks are lead by Gabe strolling around and easing us into casual collective conversation, asking general, yet personal questions to the audience. Between pockets of conversation, or to give us a bit of a break from the action, guitarist and singer songwriter Michelle Shocked riffs us off some sweet blues, some of the most passionate and energetic solo music performances many of us will have seen.

This show is heavily dependent on the attendance of an audience ready and prepared to talk, for without it, it just becomes open-ended conversations that lose meaning, and we are subjected to the melodramatic scripted drama between the actors. When an audience is not as responsive to conversation, the actors have to work hard to keep things moving. Going back once again to try and spark off an exciting topic we may have touched on, we find ourselves going about in circles. With a willing and vulnerable audience, Joe’s NYC Bar has the opportunity to open up political and philosophical debates that hold potential to create a genuine impact on its participants. 

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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The Blurb

An interactive, improvisational immersive theatre experience, in which the audience is transported to a bar in New York City. Fresh from a sell-out Off-Broadway run, Joe's returns to Edinburgh. Follow @JoesNYCBar for musical guest announcements. '3-D theatre that will pull you in' (Orlando Sentinel). 'Incredibly well conceived and executed' ***** ( 'Exceptionally acted immersive theatre, funny and flawlessly executed' ***** ( 'Utterly engrossing, imagine Bukowski had written an episode of Cheers' **** ( 'Immersive and interactive theatre at its best. A triumph of improvisation and interaction. Hugely entertaining and thought-provoking' **** (