joseph deeney

the national museum of joe

London Dungeon ** – London, UK

Friday 18th November 2016 – £28.50 per adult

Joined by Ed Davis

N.B. No photography here which was fair enough, the darlings were performing.

There’s a sweet spot in London, between Big Ben and Waterloo, that’s special. It’s special to all Londoners. It’s special because we avoid it, knowing it to be the gaudiest dump in all England. The London Dungeon, the London Eye, Sea Life London, and (inexplicably) The Shrek Experience all take residence in this tight space. Here’s an interesting fact: in London, you’re never more than 4 metres away from a piece of shit.

I took my friend Ed for his birthday. We’d often mentioned how we’re the only people we know stupid enough to pay nearly thirty fucking notes to wander around a yellow-belt ghost train, and his transition to a big, brave 33 year old seemed the apposite moment to do so.

Merlin, the Death Star of days out, have put a lot of focus on interaction and so, drama students gambol hither and thither in daft costumes from the Dungeon’s gob to arsehole. The attention to detail is incredible, in that we got to relive the horrors of a medieval torture chamber by queuing up to enter three different times. The opening section was called “The Clink” which froze the excreta within me for obvious reasons. Luckily, it was simply their name for Merlin’s insufferable insistence on making us pose for a photo and charging £15 for it as we left. What makes London Dungeon different is the cheeky bastards had two separate photographs for me not to buy.

A kid behind me said, “Why is this taking ages?” Quite right.

Henry VIII’s boat ride was broken, which meant fifty percent of the rides were not operational. They tried to joke their way out of this with the following picture:

No, that's a jerry-built millennial attraction for ya!

No, that’s a jerry-built millennial attraction for ya!

Our group was eventually led to small room in which a Jester claiming to work for James I (clearly copy-and-pasted from her usually being Henry VIII’s jester to accord with what wasn’t knackered) set the scene. And, oh! was she annoying. I said to Ed that if she was our guide throughout, I was actually going to fucking hang myself.

We started with a gunpowder plotter who I can’t really judge as I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. So we moved on to a guard called Edward Bates of whom I can find no historical record. Was he called that so they could crack an awful “Master Bates” gag? Jesus! Also, as a Yorkshireman, Guy Fawkes speaking in RP enraged the ferrets down my trousers. Hammy campness, notwithstanding, the factual inaccuracy was most noteworthy e.g. Guy Fawkes wasn’t hanged, drawn, and quartered, but jumped to his death from the scaffold before he could be. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh Merlin?

The delivery of the Dungeon is a set-list of historical performances, ranging between bad Edinburgh show to school play you’ve been dragged to. What follows is a complete list…

First, a 17th century torturer who couldn’t give one shit. If you can’t be bothered mate… actually, I thought he was pretty funny. He was the only one who reigned it in a  bit and, ergo, the best.

Plague Nurse. No point, but Ed fancied her.

Surgeon. OK, he was pretty funny but more a vehicle for jump scares and gallows humour than anything worthwhile.

Fire of London. What a waste of good history! The scripts those starving artists had to limp through were total doggerel.

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I think I smell a rat. Oh no, that’s just the building.

Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd. My life was not threatened by the demon barber of Fleet Street so much as the puns. Half the puns would’ve been too many. It was punbearable. I win. Do people know Sweeney Todd didn’t actually exist? This section was my personal favourite. Not for the performances, they were dogshit, but for Ed getting really scared and going “wuuuurrrrggghh!”. I laughed until I prolapsed.

Mary Kelly. A tough one, this. Mary Kelly was the fifth person to be killed by Jack the Ripper and she was talking of the four women he’d killed. Ellipsis, ellipsis. Could’ve been a car crash and a bit offensive, but was instead boring and a bit offensive.

Jack the Ripper. It was a decent ghost story but the problem is, Jack the Ripper wasn’t a ghost, he was a lunatic who tore women apart. So platforming him as a pantomime blackguard seemed weird. And by “weird”, I mean a load of bollocks. Oh, and Ed got all afraid, which felt like a kiss to me.

Court. Didn’t get this bit. As a group we were under trial before a judge and aggressive lawyer in wigs. They got three punters in the dock (including me) and yelled at them (including me). It centred on a terrible Welsh sheep shagging punchline. Just so you know, it’s 2016.

Newgate Prison. Shit.

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Where is he?

Hanging. A theme park ride that shoots one up and down whilst looking at poorly appointed mannequins. This was only worth it for me saying to Ed (a lily-livered, poltroon coward, soiling himself), “What happened at Alton Towers, again?” and his reply of, “Why are you saying that now?” Such a magical day.

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Where is he?

Bar. Sure, we got a free drink, but for £28.50 I was expecting twenty minutes of compliments and hand jobs.

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There he is!

Ed said if they’d done it in America it would’ve been amazing, and he’s dead right. The production value was less “dungeon”, and more “bargain basement” with perfunctory writing, Sylvia Young acting, and moth-eaten displays. It was more like the Blackpool Dungeon (which unbelievably exists). I was never scared and never excited and never interested, but I laughed until I choked and that’s because Edmund George Davis of Southampton, Hampshire, is an unmitigated fucking coward. Happy birthday, mate.

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