Last night I went to The Generation of Z, the brand new live action show that drags its audience kicking and screaming through an old warehouse in Whitechapel a post-apocalyptic world.
The show begins in a decrepit East London basement with a hundred or so fellow audience members. As the (metaphorical) curtain lifts, four soldiers appear and explain – in between verbal abuse and some light kettling – that we are the last survivors in a zombie-infested world, and we have an hour to exit the building, where a convoy will take us to safety. After some hairy moments, the audience is split into smaller groups and taken on different storylines through the set, which is decked out in all the usual end-of-the-world paraphernalia: abandoned lunch trays, torn curtains, ominous messages written in blood, etc. The story unfolds as the audience is shepherded through the labyrinthine set, which is all the spookier for the distant screaming of other groups as they traverse the maze. The production values are decent, and although the storyline doesn’t deviate much from your standard flesh-muncher movie, the set department have done a good job of creating unpredictable moments throughout the show. There are some cool special effects along the way, and the supporting cast are too very good; my favourite was the mad scientist Gary Oldman lookalike who, spittle-flecked and sweating, succeeded in giving us all the willies.
Although it looks similar, it’s actually a completely different experience to 2.8 Hours Later, the zombie wide game I played this time last year when it came to Wembley. Sure, they both rely heavily on blood-spattered volunteers lurching from scene to scene, but The Generation of Z is more of a live action show, whereas 2.8 Hours Later is a game with much less narrative and much more running around and screaming like a dickhead. Because in the latter the Infected are actively trying to tag you, it’s much more intense, but that’s not to say that TGOZ isn’t without its scary moments. The audience is certainly involved – I, for instance, got squished behind a security door in a clumsy attempt to save Links, our feisty and unrealistically good-looking military escort – but we were still very much spectators. This makes it much more suited to especially highly-strung/athletically challenged zombie-lovers who don’t want to spend two hours sprinting around multi-storey carparks. It’s also suitable for teenagers and prodigiously hard-assed young ‘uns. (2.8 Hours Later is strictly adults only, whereas younger people are permitted to watch TGOZ at parents’ discretion.)
The actors – indeed, the ones playing the soldiers; the zombie parts tend to be enthusiastic but short-lived – do a very good job of quelling the sniggers, which are inevitable pretty much anywhere that’ll attract a younger crowd. Lanky titterers were hauled up as trouble-makers and screamed at – “What’s your fucking problem, pretty boy!?” – but overall the audience was reasonably well-behaved. Like any immersive fantasy experience, you have to want to believe it, but you’re willing to let go of reality for an hour or so and don’t mind the occasion spattering of fake blood, it’s a cool and fun alternative to the West End.
Tickets to The Generation of Z cost £42.50 per person (concessionary rates available), but there are still a few promotional tickets available at £25 each. You can find out more and book tickets online.
The Generation of Z, 69-89 Mile End Rd, London, E1 4TT. Showing until 5th July 2015.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.