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  • Henry Longstaff

Wishmas - The Old Bauble Factory

A dash of immersive Christmas magic

Photograhy - Matt Crockett


The weathered Christmas jumper is on, its first outing for this season and there is a budding feeling that we are approaching the end of another year. Aptly part of the Vaults space underneath Waterloo has been transformed into the Old Bauble Factory, where a magical journey sees children and adults transported along the route that wishes take, leading all the way to Father Christmas himself. Though desperately lacking coherent storytelling, there is an undeniable sparkle that will charm children of all ages.

We are first bustled into a colourful room, its walls adorned with birdhouses and lights. A delightfully cheerful elf informs us that this is where the wishes arrive, the bird boxes belonging to the robins that head out across the world to collect up the hopes and dreams of all of us, carrying them safely back to this delightful sorting office. The lore is laid upon us and even by far-fetched Christmas tale standards, it is a hard sell and bafflingly nonsensical. A mismatch of clumsy festive tropes and events are tenuously bundled together, with about the same strength as a paper hat found in a Christmas cracker - though the narrative is hardly the focal point of this experience.

After meeting one of the robins we head towards the appropriately named Sky Train that, you guessed it, travels through the sky taking us towards Wishmas - its windows replaced by screens so we can witness the London landscape fall away as we take off. Three other rooms follow, each with its own slither of interactivity and led by an elf who holds the attention of the room impressively. The cast are animated and engaging, daring us to come along on this bizarre adventure whilst ensuring the younger members of our party are swept up in the enchantment. The costume design is top-notch, with the white-bearded man and his pointy-eared employees looking their best. Though much investment and colourful design has gone into the scenic design, it is often lifeless and banal, the immersion faltering at the edges. Minimal interactivity and teases of non-existent rooms do little to further the cause. With the explosion of immersive experiences in recent years, each overflowing with clever trickery and ingenuity, this one falls a little short, but with the ticket price on the more affordable end of the London scale, this can be somewhat forgiven.

For a production geared towards younger audiences, the best way to gauge its effectiveness was to see how the children reacted to the wonder placed before them and without a doubt, most were wholly captivated. They watched wide-eyed as we met Father Christmas and threw themselves into the essential task of saving lost wishes. This festive-flavoured hour will delight and reignite the magic in most youngsters but lacks the full Christmassy magic to win the rest of us over.

Touring until 7th January - Tickets

Photography - Matt Crockett

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