Shunt’s The Boy Who Climbed Out Of His Face

For those of you who have not yet encountered the bizarre world of immersive theatre, a visit to Shunt’s latest production of The Boy Who Climbed Out Of His Face should offer a good introduction to this experimental and downright weird realm of dramatic art. Set on a jetty overlooking the Thames and the Emirates Cable Cars (may as well catch a ride while you’re at it, it’s only £3.50 and you’ll observe some spectacular views of the city), Shunt will take you on a journey like no other. You might not climb out of your face – but you’ll certainly feel like you’re off your face.

Before you enter the yellow room where a woman with a vibrating and seemingly dislocated jaw will inform you that you’ve gone the wrong way about fifty times, you’ll be asked / encouraged / forced to take your shoes off… so prepare accordingly and get the Scholl out the night before. You’ll carry your shoe box with you as you enter another box – a box of rave. A masked man will unleash your inner goblin and before you know it, you’ll be waving your box in the air, wishing you’d packed the glow sticks. There are a mix of winners and losers in this room. It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts, so be prepared to lose, but, at some stage, glory will descent upon thee. And when it does, you’ll be escorted into a silent sauna via a forest. Sand will exfoliate your soles and toes as you peer behind trees, expecting to be set upon by all sorts of wild beasts. Someone will lose their bottle as they’re collecting their bottles… don’t expect to make friends, he’s a lonesome bush baby, and you’re there simply to take a lift elsewhere. That’s a literal lift. But one that doesn’t move. Nevertheless, the doors will open and you’ll bear witness to a blindfolded audience member (poor cow) being stroked by a woman with the most intense stare known to man. ‘I want to look at you’, she’ll sweetly sing into your ear as she moves onto her next victim. The waiflike creature will look into your eyes and, as the intensity increases, a piece of your soul will slither out – they’re slippery things, souls. If you’re not “chosen”, congratulations, you’ll get to make it out into the fresh air, where a bearded man in a blonde wig and a white dress will serenade you whilst standing on a cargo container overlooking a pool of dead babies. Oh and then he’ll get naked. But if you’re selected, you’ll become accustomed to the dark, and lose your friends while you’re at it.

Yes, it’s as trippy as it sounds.

Ok so, for a tenner, you may as well go along and spend half hour inside an acid junkie’s deluded mind. I mean, why not? If you like things that make sense, perhaps this isn’t for you (there’s no boy for starters; plenty of faces though). And if you’re one easily offended by the sight of dead babies, deformities and penises that waft in motion to the wind… either man up and get over it or stay at home. Or stick to Shunt’s bar.

As someone who has seen a fair amount of experimental, immersive, site-specific performance art, I can’t help feel a little disappointed. The space is incredible – a dramatist’s wet dream – but they didn’t do it justice in my book. There was room for a lot more “play” and they could have done so much more. It’s almost as though they’ve been a bit lazy about it; forsaking creativity by relying too heavily on the atmosphere of the venue. There’s certainly a vision (the sight of the dead babies will probably stay with me for some time, aka EVER), but it’s executed in a rather half-hearted way.

Saying that, you should go along anyway – it’s a cheap night out and it definitely offers something “different”. Plus the bar alone is well worth a visit regardless of whether you’re a theatre buff…

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You can sip your glass of vino (£3.50 small, £7 large) as you wave “ahoy” to the pirate ships sailing by. Bar, boats and balminess. What better way to spend a summer’s evening?

No pics allowed… so catch the video here.

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64 Degrees, Brighton

Best. Food. Ever.

Those three words should sum it up but I wouldn’t be much of a blogger if I left it at that.

You’ll find 64 Degrees tucked away on Meeting House Lane. According to the couple propped up on the bar next to us, this restaurant used to be a sandwich shop in a former life. That’s how small it is. The waiting staff – a happy bunch, all of whom possess sparkly eyes and genuine smiles – will relieve you of any chunky baggage / garments, so you should be able to squeeze your way to your table. (This might be a struggle by the end of the meal though).

Chef Michael Bremner’s philosophy is that “the food rules, the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant, the chefs are its lifeblood and centre of all the action”. And so they are… 

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Not only were his team of chefs the epitome of professional, but they were also extremely charming . On the rare occasion I find myself in a kitchen, it’s a case of sweat and tears… sometimes blood… and many profanities (and that’s making a Pot Noodle). But these guys were as cool as cucumbers. They’re calm, good looking and, by God, they can cook. I might go back and ask one to marry me. Don’t mind which one.

Bremner’s menu features a selection of small plates and sharing dishes. We ordered the ‘chump, courgette, yogurt, flageolet’ (with little idea as to what that actually meant – but hey, life’s about trying new things and embracing the unknown, right?). It was lamb. Not just any lamb. The best goddamn lamb known to man. It was so good, I forgot to take a photo of it.

Then we went for the ‘wings, kimchi, blue cheese’… 

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The picture doesn’t do it justice. The chicken melted in our mouths and the sauce… well, I would gladly bathe in it. (No idea what that white / terracotta leaf thing is… but it was crispy and delicious, so I devoured it anyway). 

Just as we started to feel spoiled, the ‘scallop, celery, onion’ dish arrived. We got three scallops each and we savored each bite. Delicious.

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To tick the carb box, we ordered ‘potato knödel, cabbage, smoked butter’… NEVER has red cabbage tasted so good. I mean, what do they do to it?? It’s cabbage. But it’s not. It’s so much more. 

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And the potatoes…? Well, for those who don’t speak / eat German (it’s a German dish, the umlaut might have given it away), imagine the best croquette potato you’ve ever had and multiply it by a million.

In the words of Homer Simpson: arrrrrrrhhh… can’t talk…. eating…… 

This place is due to celebrate it’s one year birthday next month, so you should go and celebrate with them. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had anything so damn good in my mouth.