The Waldorf Project: The Most Insane, Nightmare Experience You Never Knew You Didn’t Want To Do

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Copyright: Waldorf Project

“We’ve been getting mixed reviews.”

This is what was said to me by the very friendly coat-check girl, dressed all in black with a rhinestone “Princess” collar around her neck, as I left Waldorf Project: Chapter Three / FUTURO. No surprise, as I still am not fully sure what I went through last night.

However, I can tell you this: I hated it. 

Now, please don’t misunderstand me, that doesn’t mean it was bad. And for the right person, this would be a life-altering experience. But for me, personally, this was everything, and I mean everything, I dislike about art projects.

THE SHOW

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Copyright: Waldorf Project

Here is The Waldorf Project’s warning about the show:

The Waldorf Project is staged under the concept of a Japanese emotion called “AMAE” which means “a temporary surrender in perfect safety”. The Project is an experimental performance which deals with a spectrum of emotional experiences, ranging from the gentle to the more dark – but always, in a context in which you should feel safe. This performance however, is not for everyone. We ask you to carefully read the following information before purchasing a ticket.

Now, I’m not going to reveal specific secrets of the evening, as those who like an experience like this would really like it’s dark and mysterious nature. And it is dark. And mysterious. And it absolutely was one hundred goddam percent not for me.

That embarrassing moment when you arrive to The Waldorf Project and realise everyone wore the same outfit.

And readers of my blog will know that I actually love immersive theatre: Punchdrunk, Secret Cinema, Watch Your Head, Gingerline, etc. All amazing. Actually, I love theatre in general. But this? It’s isn’t theatre, dance or any kind of traditional performance, even an immersive one. Instead, it’s a blood-soaked abstract raw art that forces you into the middle of an incredibly awkward, painful and often times sadly boring experience.

How best to describe it? The show is one long Kubrickian nightmare where angry faux-geishas force feed you bitter drinks in the pitch blackness as that sound from Inception plays constantly for two and a half hours. (You know the one I’m talking about…)

You’re shoved around the fog-infused warehouse set, pushed into tiny tunnels, forced onto your knees on a brutally hard tile floor and expected to stay there until your joints start burning and angrily manhandled for the entire experience as you slowly grow more and more bored.

No, seriously, bored. So bored.

THE DULLNESS

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Copyright: Waldorf Project

“But Alex,” I hear you say, “That sounds insane. How can it be boring?”

Oh, you think that if it was that crazy, it would at least be stimulating? Wrong. Because all 40 people go in at once, and it’s intimate experiences with the actors, you have to wait your turn. And wait you do in the most uncomfortable positions imaginable.

Most of the show is you being forced to stand/sit/kneel/lay there in the dark as the sounds of hell pierce your skull and then wait as, literally, nothing happens around you.

I must have spent at least a good culminated half an hour staring at walls/floors or ceiling like I was some sort of sad child punished for eating all the sweets.

In fact, why don’t I share some of the thoughts I had while awkwardly being forced to lay down on my side last night. I think you might actually enjoy it:

  • “Ok, so, I’m back on the floor. I hope this thing is washed.”
  • “Is anyone ever going to come to do something, or is this the whole show. Maybe I should take a nap?”
  • Don’t take a nap you idiot, someone will hurt you!”
  • “Ok, so then what to do? Is there a movie I think I could remember the entire plot to while laying here? What about the original Star Wars?”
  • “Is anyone ever going to come over here and get me?”
  • “Soo, there’s a battle in space, and Darth Vader boards a ship. Then the princess hides the plans in the robots and they get off the ship, right before she’s captured…”
  • “Ugh, I have to clean my inbox when I get home. Too many damn emails.”
  • “I hope my dog hasn’t gotten into anything while I’m doing this. I bet she has, that rascal”
  • “Still nothing happening? Ok, keep waiting.”
  • “… So then Luke and Obi-Wan go to the cantina where they meet the truly badass Han Solo, who’s sitting there all cool in his booth…”

It went on like that. For two and a half hours. The show is so damn long. SO. DAMN. LONG. In the darkness, with nothing to do, waiting to be abused again.

And, I kid you not, when it was finally over, the light’s shot on and someone yelled out, “That’s the end.” That is literally how they ended the show last night.

“But at least, during the night, you were fed delicious things, right? I read that food is a big part of the show, so that had to be nice, right? Right?”

Ah, my friend, you clearly haven’t been paying attention…

THE FOOD

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Copyright: Waldorf Project

Futuro is an immersive production that’s works “food” into its production, but again, it’s not really food – it’s all as abstract as the show itself.

You do cocktails but they’re shoved up against your lips by the actors and you’re forced to guzzle them down, or you get strange dark pastes shoved in your mouth (the women’s fingers included) or splattered all over your face.

I realise now, re-reading emails, that they always talk about it as seven “courses” of food. Always like that. Like the rest of this show, the “meal” is there to stimulate your senses rather than feed you. And for some, it’s going to be a revelation, but for others, it’s like that moment you’ve been fearing your entire life but had no idea you were terrified of until it happens to you.

And it’s happening to you, right now…

The whole show is about giving up control and placing yourself fully into the the chaos and comfort of the dark and the strange intimacy of strangers. And if you feel like this is for you, then I recommend picking up a ticket for… £79!? Tickets cost £79! Seriously!? That’s more than Secret Cinema and they build a gigantic immersive world for you to live in with about 100 actors! They’re charging £79!!!

Ok, Alex, deep breaths. So if you have £79 (*chokes*) and it sounds like something you’d like, do it. Because there are people who love things like this: experimental films or abstract art or weirdness with a message wrapped in more weirdness. And so do I, to a point. But last night proved to me exactly where that point was, and then this show walked way beyond it, physically and painfully dragging me along in the process.

When I left the building, covered in a purple paste that still has not fully come off today (despite the fact that I was told multiple times that, and I quote, “It’s really easy to clean.”) I hopped in an Uber happy to head home.

My driver asked me what I’d been up to that night, and I tried to describe it the best I could.

“At least they made it memorable,” he said.

That it was, but, for me, it was for all the wrong reasons.


THE GOOD: Ok, so if you love weird, abstract theatre or art, and find joy in the intense, then you will enjoy this.

THE BAD: This show switched painfully from in-your-face to gut-clenchingly boring every ten minutes or so. You’re shoved around, dragged into awkward position and force fed tiny portions of strange food all in the name of art. Plus, tickets are the spit-out-your-drink cost of £79. My god.

The Waldorf Project: Chapter Three / FUTURO runs from today until November 20. Tickets cost £79 and can be purchased here

3 Comments

  • kariss Ainsworth

    ugh. I think I’ll skip this one!

    • Alex

      It was… an experience.

  • Meena

    Sounds more for those who like a bit of dominance lol

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