Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Alien Wars" - January 2009

Billed as "a terrifying total reality experience" Alien Wars at The Arches takes small groups of visitors on a tour to see an alien spaceship that has been discovered in the basement of the venue. The original 'Alien War' experience at the Arches in 1992 is the stuff of legend and is still spoken about in Glasgow with a great deal of affection... and more than a little fear. Its reputation at the time was for seriously pushing the buttons of participants - so much so that I was always otherwise engaged when friends suggested I join them for a trip. Almost 17 years later I'm feeling much braver...

No spoilers here, the fun is all about the unknown, and while they do vary the experience it's best you know as little as possible in advance. But it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the tour doesn't run to plan.

But let's get to what you really want to know... will it scare you? Well, maybe. We certainly saw other people who were genuinely quite distressed but for us it remained more of a curiosity with an occasional jump rather than generating any real element of fear. We couldn't quite commit enough to the experience to overcome our knowledge that in reality the environment was tightly controlled.

At 15 minutes in length, although clearly quite sufficient for some of those in our tour party, it would have benefitted from at least another 10 minutes to ratchet up the feeling of confinement that the venue can clearly provide.

It's certainly a good bit of fun and the 'cast' performances work well, but it isn't as far away from an old school 'ghost train' as it could (should) be, and the £10 ticket price seems towards the high end of reasonable. That said, the group before us clearly loved it and were already asking when the next 'change of scenario' would be so that they could come back again.

But I'd suggest that if you want to get the most from it, you drag along someone you know will be easily freaked out. That way even if it isn't enough to scare you, there will be sufficient amusement value to make the experience memorable.

Note: While it is the normal policy of View From the Stalls to pay for tickets, our tickets for Alien Wars were won in a competition in the Sunday Herald newspaper.

Alien Wars runs at The Arches until 31 March.