Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium

9:27 pm in Featured, Review by EVNT

So the decision to head to Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium was a late one- tickets were sold out by the time I knew what it was all about. When there were a few more released I snapped up a couple. I then suddenly realised I had literally no idea what I was going to or how the evening would pan out. What had I let us in for?

I had spoken to a few friends about different immersive theatre experiences, but this one seemed as though it was going to be a bit different. Obviously I thought I would try to prep for the evening; checked out the website, snooped through the Facebook page and scrolled down the Twitter feed to get an idea of what I was heading too, but in the end I decided that we should prepare for a surprise and see where the evening took us.

The atmosphere in the queue was really good and to be honest we were put at ease when we realised that no one else seemed to know any more than we did. In the 10 minutes we had waiting outside we spoke to several characters who were obviously friends of Wilfred’s, some helpers and a bunch of others waiting to go in. We had a cloak, we were told to listen carefully when we got inside and then we entered. I’m not sure what I was expecting from my first taste of the evening, but we had essentially walked into what felt like the hallway of quite a grand Victorian house.

I found myself staring at the wallpaper and the shelves of little knick knacks and only realised after about 30 seconds that I hadn’t heard a word of what our host was telling us. This was just minutes after I had been told to listen carefully… *facepalm*. But I got the gist. We were heading back to the 14th century, there were three groups of people back there (peasants, the church and the military) and I needed find out as much as I could to stop the assassination of John of Gaunt. Seemed straight forward enough to me.

All we had to do now was head through the time machine. And what a machine it was too. There were lights…a lot of them. There was an awesome looking control panel flashing and whirling about and the only thing I could think it looked like was part of an attraction at Universal Studios. So back in time we crawled, landing straight into a small market square full of hustle and bustle and smelling a lot, I thought, like 1381 (Not sure how to describe that now, but it did).

The bar instantly presented itself as the best place to start, although as it turned out we were actually at the apothecary and the barman really was from 1381. “What you be after good sir?”…Queue awkward silence from me, a moment of panic and a point of the finger. “Two mead it is then Sir”. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever had mead, but we had not. I can’t say we went for a second round but the foreign ale and cloudy cider were much more to our taste.

Not really knowing where to start in this market square of people, we had a look about. There were a lot like us in cloaks wandering about mixed in with a lot of characters in awesome dress. All these guys seemed to be having in depth conversations with people in cloaks. The plan seemed simple, walk around and speak to everyone in character. After that we had nothing, but with each trip to the tavern we seemed to be getting a little more confident and possibly slightly better. I even found myself putting on the same West Country accent the barmaid had…although I’m not sure why.

She was *very* friendly though and asked if I could do her a favour (of course I could) and go to the apothecary and get her something for her foot. Didn’t seem the most glamorous task, but we knew where we were going and off we went. 10 minutes later and after a slightly less awkward conversation with the gent at the apothecary we were back at the bar with 2 piece of gold in hand (groats) and feeling pretty good about the whole evening.

We then settled into a steady rhythm doing more of the same. We had weird conversations, we gambled some of our money away and were given more for doing missions with other characters. We carried messages for the king, I was healed at the church, we nearly got in a fight (I might have decided to tell a soldier that my friend was French to see what happened) and we had started to make up stories about who we were and why we were actually there.

One thing we hadn’t actually done though was join a cause. We got close to becoming part of the peasantry, but then we spoke to the king and weren’t  sure who we should pledge allegiance to. And although the guys in the church were friendly, they hadn’t really convinced us they were on to anything.

By this point the whole square had already been brought to a standstill a few times with announcements from the King and protests from the peasants brandishing red ribbons. There had also been several messages from Wilfred Bagshaw himself warning us all of the severity of our actions and gently nudging us in the right direction. But when we got rounded up and a procession started down the middle of the crowd we sensed that someone must have got a little further along with the task at hand than we had.

The Abbot gave a sermon and managed to quieten down the rowdier elements but as we moved into evening mass the peasants were determined to have the last say – more bread was thrown at the king and then from the crowd broke free and ran forward to stop the assassination attempt, knocking the poisoned communion wine from John’s grasp.

Time stopped again and Wilfred returned, projected onto the wall… he seemed pleased with the way things had gone, and so were we. We were never put on the spot or made to feel awkward by any of the actors, we had got as involved as we had wanted to and to be honest I think if we had another hour we might have actually cracked what we needed to do rather than making up subplots for ourselves and working our way through the options in the tavern. But then that was as much what the evening seemed to be about anyway

The after party then went into full swing. The foreign ale and cloudy cider were still flowing and we seemed to be a lot better at working out how things worked now we were back in the present day. Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium had been a really great night out. We hadn’t necessarily gone about it the right way, but that hadn’t stopped us having a great time doing something completely different. We may not have mastered the 14th century, but if Wilfred heads back in time any time soon then we will definitely be heading for the time machine again.