We’ve all been there. It’s coming towards closing time in the pub and you’re just not quite ready for the night to end. The pub doors are bolted, the curtains are meticulously closed, for fear a glimmer of light to the outside world will let them in the secret of The Lock In.

Whether you’ve experienced that or not, Over The Limit company invited the audience into an immersive experience of what it is like to continue drinking into the night of an Irish pub, with an engaging and enthusiastic storyteller at the helm of the journey.

Set in an Irish pub, Over the Limit transformed a crevice of the vaults into your stereotypical Irish pub. The walls are festooned with jerseys, various sports memorabilia, and questionable bottles of alcohol. The set-up for the audience is in a pub style with various tables of all levels, scattered with branded beer mats. The stage doubles up for the band and storytelling, working as the focal point for the audience, but still holds onto that ‘pub’ feel. The attention to detail in the audience experience created a high energy and relaxed atmosphere as we all crammed ourselves in to hear the tale of Niall and the Nine Hostages.

The tale of Niall and the Nine Hostages is told by the lead singer of the band Eamon, played by Ian Horgan, who meanders his way through the audience recruiting them to take part. Horgan had the audience continuously engaged and endeared by his adoration for Niall and his quick witted comedic quips. Even with the odd slip of the story, which may well have been intentional, it was all part of his charm and the engagement the audience interaction. Eamon was recounting the tale to his four band members Rowan (Rory Quinn), Clionadh (Emmy Stonelake), Domhnall (Eddy Massarella), and Dave (Any Burse) who intercepted the story with jibes, banter, and Lord of the Rings comparisons. The dynamic between the five was faultlessly natural, making the charm of these friendships something special to be a part of.

The music throughout the play, directed by Quinn, was a variety of rebel songs, modern Irish songs, and some old favourites; which had the ‘pub’ clapping, stomping, and singing along, completely taken in by the band. The varied selection was a diverse representation of modern Irish day culture. A few guitars, spot-on harmonies, and impressively agile piano accordion playing, the cast are incredibly talented and diverse in The Lock In.

For an hour, it became very easy to forget that you were in the Vaults at Waterloo, and not a pub in Dublin. Something Director Sinead O’Callaghan managed to magically create. The snippet of Ireland and the immersive hour was a little bit of Ireland in the heart of London.

The Lock In played at VAULT Festival till 5 March. For more information about the production, visit Over The Limit Theatre.

Photo by Michael Corcoran