Trolls come out to Play at The Goblin King’s Annual Masquerade BallCulture
On Friday 4th May, Old Vic Tunnels was transformed into a playground for the weird, the dark, the kinky and the down-right obscure. The Goblin King’s 2ndAnnual Masquerade Ball was in town; this year’s theme: Theatre of Trolls.
A collective effort of some of London’s best independent theatre companies, prop design experts and costume designers means the Masquerade Ball is always a spectacle. This year’s event was supported by Twisted Cirque, the brilliant entertainment agency that is known for going much further than burlesque; Prangsta Costumier, costume design company who rework discarded vintage clothes into ridiculously imaginative new creations; and Die Mortal, a two-man, or rather woman, prop design company capable of producing basically anything from the tiny and intricate to the ridiculously enormous – on incredibly varying budgets.
Costumes are obligatory at the Goblin King’s Ball; the more intricate and over-the-top the better. Plaster-cast masks, stilt-walkers, armour, wings, corsets, furs and nipple-tassels – nothing is out of bounds. The Old Vic Tunnels is the perfect setting in the cavernous Victorian archways previously owned by British Rail. Access the tunnels from Station Approach Road, which begins to set the mood with walls entirely covered in graffiti from local street artists and descend into the damp, cool depths of the tunnels.
Fringe theatre of this kind is sadly under-patronised, but events like this really display the best of what fringe events have to offer. Off the wall and uncensored, the evening included performances from deviant singer-songwriters, darkly comic ventriloquists, a goblin market for strange potions and nibblets and a screening of the fantastic Norwegian film Troll Hunter. Playing on a loop all evening, the screening – even when no one was watching – provided the perfect sound-track as the thudding, ominous sounds of troll roars echoed around the tunnels. The most spectacular highlight of the night came from Die Mortal, whose ten-foot-tall troll puppet lumbered from behind the film screen and thudded through the tunnels. Requiring three puppeteers to man it, the troll was a manifestation of perfectly-realised imagination akin to Jim Henson’s brilliantly dark creations for the movie The Labyrinth. It seems belittling to describe the Goblin King’s Annual Masquerade Ball as simply a piece of fringe theatre – really it is an immersive theatre experience and a gloriously strange party.
As the name might suggest, the Goblin King’s Annual Masquerade Ball is a yearly celebration of spectacularly strange fantasy. Bringing to life the dark and twisted world of ancient fables, childhood faery stories and folk lore eons older than the Victorian Tunnels that host the Ball – London has nothing else quite like it.