Welcome Welcome To Night Vale translated well to the stage, you didn’t feel like you were simply listening to a podcast read aloud. It had the energy of a live show without having much physical activity. While there were references to a number of running gags from the podcast I feel confident that anyone who hasn’t listened before would be able to enjoy the show, well as long as you’re into a little creepy storytelling. As for the venue, I loved the hot chocolates, but the loos are cold and far away.
Union Chapel – Islington – London – 29th September 2015
For those who haven’t heard of it Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast, a mock community radio show set in the unusual fictional desert town of Night Vale. A town where all conspiracy theories are real, the Sheriffs Secret Police patrol from helicopters overhead there’s a five headed dragon running for mayor and dogs are definitely NOT ALLOWED in the dog park.
“A friendly desert community, where the sun is still hot, the moon still beautiful, and mysterious lights still pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep.”
Walking past the Union Chapel about 10 minutes before doors open, a venue I’ve only been to twice before, but one that has left a great impression on me, I can see that people are queuing down the street and round the corner. As expected for a show like this a number of people have come dressed as characters from the show I can see a very good version of a glow cloud, a couple of shady looking hooded figures and a few people dressed as the ‘voice of Night Vale’ radio host Cecil Palmer.
I met my friends for a drink in a bar nearby, we were still a bit worried about getting a decent seat since the Union Chapel is unseated, but decided to take the risk. When we returned at 7:20 most people had already entered. Seats downstairs were all taken, so we went upstairs and found that there were plenty of seats still available with good views.
The Union Chapel is a beautiful building and a working church. They don’t serve alcohol inside the building, but there is a quiet bar connected to the venue where you can get a drink, before after and during the show. The venues cafe however sells snacks, sweets and hot drinks, including my favourite Union Chapel treat hot chocolate with big marshmallows in it. Charmingly the drinks are served in normal mugs, rather than take away paper cups, which gives a more homely feel to the venue.
The show begins with Meg Bashwiner, known to Night Vale fans as the proverb lady, going through all he usual safety info and introducing the opening act, musician, Jason Webley. Whose music has featured on previous episodes of WTNV. His rambunctious style suited crowd and he had us all clapping along. The wonderful acoustics of the Union Chapel meant that he could both sing and speak away from the microphone and still be heard. He performed his last song at the front of the stage with out a mic, everyone clapping along and stomping feet.
Right after the music, I was expecting a little rest break, but the show went straight on the start, which, I assume, was a shame for the girl sitting in front of me who’d run to use the loo and then missed the beginning.
Meg returned to introduce Cecil and Disparition onto the stage. Disparition who creates the music that plays in the background of the shows, sat at the corner of the stage a played a live score to the show. I found myself in awe of him sitting quietly taking up such a small space but adding so much to the experience.
Regular WTNV listeners, like myself, were drawn in by the familiar style, the inclusion of regular items like the community calendar, and a host of familiar characters. However I also went to the show with a friend who’d never heard WTNV before and and she enjoyed the show without knowing anything about WTNV before hand.
I won’t write about the actual narrative of the show since it’s still being performed live around the world and spoilers are evil. Although I will say that the story was compelling and I was easily draw into the story, it didn’t feel like 90 mins had passed by the end. I particularly enjoyed the way that the audience was brought into the story and encouraged to participate ad connect with with each other throughout.
I felt that they’d translated it well on to stage, you didn’t feel like you were simply listening to a podcast read aloud. It had the energy of a live show without having much physical activity. While there were references to a number of running gags from the podcast I feel confident that anyone who hasn’t listened before would be able to enjoy the show, well as long as you’re into a little creepy storytelling. As for the venue, I loved the hot chocolates, but the loos are cold and far away.