Tunnel 228

The Bloomberg Arts Club usually holds its private showings of exhibitions in varying degrees of grandeur. This was one of the more exciting ones.

Tunnel 228 doesn’t look like much from the outside – merely a blue door, in fact, and I entered with pending judgement. Having not heard a great deal about this exhibition other than that it was a ‘theatrical event’ hosted by the Old Vic Theatre I was unsure what to expect;  my confusion was not alleviated by the balaclava-clad usher who barked at us to keep on our surgical masks at all times.

The tunnel gave way to a cavernous space filled with damp and minimally lit. Sounds came from the corners and shadowy figures mooched in and out of view. The nooks and crannies of 228 were teeming with detail, such as a collection of toy cars while the open areas were home to the weird and wonderful installations. A gilded sculpture of angels fighting took pride of place and behind that stood a large sphere containing a water-based tornado. Every corner turned revealed another piece to the macabre performance with actors waking across the ceiling and bodies held up by helium balloons floating in the indoor lake. Giant 2-dimensional paper trees and paper moths filled one room while chicks burst out of a coffin off to the side. One of the main events was what looked to be a gun cupboard with two eye holes – one at eye level and one waist high – for which people were queuing. As with everything else that day I had no idea what to expect when I reached the front of the queue so I peered in and watched a couple inside naked and kissing. Worried about being caught watching for too long, I moved on.

Hours could be spent in 228 exploring the art – the aforementioned is a small proportion of the show and does not remotely do the atmosphere justice. I’d recommend you book a place and if you can’t book because it is full up (which it is) then you should just turn up and beg them to let you in. An agreement between all the collaborators and the generosity of British Rail in allowing them to use the wonderful, historical space mean that the exhibition, if you are able to get a place, is free.

The welcome reception at The Waterloo Brasserie was very welcoming and I took the opportunity to embrace the complimentary food and the free bar. While I was digging into a miniature burger my guest asked “Who’s that guy that played Kaiser Sozë in The Usual suspects?”
“What, Kevin Spacey?” I asked confused as to how this was related in any way to our conversation.
“Yeah, he’s right behind you” I turned round and chuckled to myself at the likeness this chap displayed to Kevin Spacey. A little too much, actually, it turned out to be him! (Which is actually not surprising considering he is the artistic director of The Old Vic).

After seeing him talking to Jamie Theakston at the end of the bar, we decided to take our opportunity for a chat while there was a spare seat at his table. He was warm, funny and friendly and talked about the show with passion and humility, joking with us about the topical nature of the surgical masks and ‘swine flu’ and crediting the many collaborators for their vision in putting on the show. He then gave a short speech to everyone thanking the collaborators, British Rail, Bloomberg, Punchdrunk and the many other individuals and organisations who had realised the concept in the space of 6 weeks and enabled them to show the performance for free.

All in all, a fantastic evening and I would thoroughly recommend this exhibition as an excellent source of entertainment.


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