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The Goblin King’s Ball: Theatre of Trolls

The Goblin King’s Ball: Theatre of Trolls

London is a fantastical town, bubbling beneath the surface is all manner of creatures and curiosities, and on Friday they came out to play for a fantasy themed night of mischief and revelry. The second Annual Goblin Ball brought to us by Guerrilla Zoo (a revolving collective army of underground artists, musicians and performers) was held in the cavernous halls of The Old Vic Tunnels beneath Waterloo Station and the invite read:

Lords and Ladies of Misrule, you are hereby invited by The Goblin King to his Annual Masquerade Ball. This evening see’s the World Turn’d Upside Down; Where Fools become Princes for one night. Where Goblins, Nymphs, Ogres, Bad Faeries and other Creatures of the Night, beyond the realm of human vision, are free to make merry, tempt, seduce, carry out acts of foolishness and wantonness. Dearest revellers cast aside your thoughts of the next day and abandon yourselves to the mystical excesses and delirious cacophonies of The Goblin King’s Theatre of Trolls.

On entering we were greeted by the Goblin King a resplendent green atop stilts handing out strange toys to the first guests. Wonderful art installations of eerie figures, stocks and a throne as well as a grand piano serving as a bar. Not being an event organised by the Gothic community I was intrigued to see the sort of people that it would attract. I was immediately astounded by the costumes; the care and detail was exquisite. It pleased me to learn of a scene which took just as much pride and dedication in the fantastical world of adornment as my dear Gothic tribe.

The music wasn’t terrible either, some standard gothic tunes blended in with more popular alternative fare and some fun 80s along with the more offbeat popular stuff. Of course “Magic Dance” by the original Goblin King filled the dancefloor appropriately. Interspersed between the drinking and dancing were various acts MC’d by Joe Black.

Burlesque, spoken word and aerial acrobatics all featured. There were a couple of performance spaces and with no programme you could find yourself in the middle of some manner of moving art without quite realising it which added to the surreal nature of it all. However it also meant that you missed quite a bit too. A Screening of The Troll Hunter along with giveaways brought the night’s theme full circle.

A more immersive form of entertainment was provided by walking performers meandering through the crowd. Some fantastic puppets made by Isabelle Riley were worthy of a Froudian accolade. You almost forgot they had a person attached, with a life and emotion all of their own. Talent to create such entities can only be seen as a divine gift.

Other artisans displaying their work included the steampunk-esque corsetry of Engineers of Desire, the wild wigs from Ghoulia Peculiar and the wonderful caricatures from Geog Banyard (do check out his work at Being my dream that one day (when I eventually grow up) to be a cartoon – I decided Tim and I should get immortalised in his ink.

I think the overwhelming impression left with me from the night was one of creativity: immersed in a world which these beings have come together and built through makeup, fabric, paint and performance. Held together by belief that there is more to life than the mundane. Everyone I spoke to had a story to tell and a world behind their painted eyes – this is the theatre of life whose boards only those that dare can tread.

Do keep an ear open and an eye out, the Gobilns will return, and if you’re not with us, well let’s just make sure you are…

Photo by Caitlin Mogridge