In the deep underbelly of the vaults, we are lead into a almost parisian but definite tomb that sways with the changing of times.
There are corners with dark and erie images of dirt and skulls, a glimpse of the universe in a coffin, shrines and so on. We are gently lead through these in the damp, and dusty wannabe catacombs.
The Church of the Sturdy Virgin is an immersive experience of the dead but also of humility. We are prompted to take it all very seriously but there are times of poking fun at the dead and the way different people grieve, celebrating death, and sometimes we are even poked at. But we are engaged and told to take this seriously and so, we are dutiful.
Split into ‘families’ we are taken on journeys to experience the different elements of burial, death, the afterlife from a comedy duo who show you how to embalm a member of the audience, to selecting a eulogy for our dearly departed that can be satirical, heartfelt or just societal.
The performers are always on point – they encompass their characters into their entire entity, enjoying the freedom of ad lib and engagement with the audience right from meeting us in the queue to the end when we leave, asking us to ‘Stay Sturdy’. At one moment there seems to be a confrontation from the ‘religious’ of the church and the more ‘spiritual’ yet this isn’t explored much more than a slight outburst and a mention of differences. I felt that this would have been great to explore some more – to show more of a darker, deeper and controversial side behind The Church of the Sturdy Virgin.
Over all I had a great time – I went in feeling apprehensive, as the wimp in me who shys away from horror films and shudders at the thought of ghosts, thought that I would find myself immersed in something my nerves just wouldn’t cope with. However, while subtle elements of this, The Church of the Sturdy Virgin was also fun, hilarious and did well to not only immerse us in their world, but break us out of our British shells and interact more.