As he turned over the tarot card and revealed the symbol of death, all of my childhood nightmares came back to me!
I’ve always had a fear of tarot cards, and I’m not really sure why. Even though I have very little confidence in the validity of tarot reading, I still have an irrational fear of what the cards may predict for me. I’m perfectly happy waiting for my future to take me by surprise, and I don’t particularly need some dire prediction picked from a deck of cards hanging over my head. Luckily, at Secret Cellar: The Vienna Experience, it wasn’t my future the cards were reading, but the past of a paranormal being from another realm. However, I’m not sure if that makes things better or worse…
When I first found out about The Secret Cellar I had no idea what to expect, and when I arrived at ‘Vaulty Towers’ in Waterloo I felt like I knew even less. Walking into what has to be one of the coolest little bars in London, with a bizarre collection of memorabilia and a mismatch of themed tables (such as one raised in a treehouse), I looked around for where this ‘show’ might be taking place, but I could find nothing! So I headed to the bar, grabbed myself a drink, joined the rabble of others standing around with similar looking tickets in their hands and waited.
Just before 7:30 I was pleasantly surprised when the bookcase I was standing next to opened to reveal a secret staircase. Thinking about it now, the sign above the bookcase reading ‘The Secret Cellar’ should have been my first clue, but I was far too distracted by the rest of the elaborate decoration around the place to notice something so small.
We were led down the stairs and through a dark corridor into a small, dimly-lit room with just 3 rows of chairs and sofas surrounding a simple office set-up. This is where we met Baron Gustav Von Wraith and Dr Franklin Fitzroy-Smogg IV from the ‘Institute of Parapsychology’, and our exploration into the paranormal began.
With plenty of help from the audience, or ‘witnesses’, Gustav and Dr Franklin used the likes of tarot cards and a ouija board, as well as several other items and techniques, to make contact with another realm in a series of thrilling and disturbing experiments which sent shivers down my spine on many an occasion.
Okay, I think it’s time to take a step back and clarify for a minute here. We weren’t really contacting ghosts from the basement of a London pub. Gustav and Dr Franklin were, in fact, award-winning magicians and actors Jasper Blakeley and Frank E. Haschka. ‘The Vienna Experiment’ is the name of their theatrical close-up magic and illusion show in London’s hidden theatre of close-up magic – The Secret Cellar.
So really, it’s not as scary as it sounds…
*Thanks Love Pop-Up’s London for organising!
Why you need to go:
To start with, the venue alone is certainly worth a visit. From the weird and wonderful bar above to the strange secret lair below, Vaulty Towers/The Secret Cellar make quite the funky little spot. The show itself was intriguing, thrilling and very entertaining, with the 2 actors doing a fantastic job at keeping the audience engaged throughout. But for me, it had to be the intimate and immersive nature of the show that made it such a unique experience. With a tiny audience of around 25 people, it was the closest I have ever been to a magic show, or a show at all for that matter!
Plus, if you fancy popping along more than once, The Vienna Experiment isn’t the only event on. The Secret Cellar plays host to the some of the world’s masters of sleight-of-hand, misdirection and illusion, so make sure you check out the schedule.
Find The Secret Cellar at Vaulty Towers: