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Fears dreamy ‘immersive theatre’ will be a noisy nightmare for neighbours

Theatre company faces backlash after applying for permission to sell alcohol at old printworks

26 January, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

A publicity poster for Somnai, which will be on its way to the former printworks in Goswell Road if Islington Council chiefs give the go-ahead

A THEATRE company which promises to ­provide an “immersive” show helping guests explore their dreams is facing objections from neighbours concerned about late-night noise.

Somnai aims to lead groups of up to six people through their subconscious and lucid dreams, using digital technology, sets and actors.

Ellipsis Entertainment, a company backed by Academy award-winner Lord David Puttnam and media entrepreneur Lord Waheed Alli, want to open up their temporary project over two floors at Laser House, the former printworks in Goswell Road, at the junction with Pear Tree Street from March 1. Tickets will begin at £50.

But residents living nearby are opposing a bid for a premises licence, with which those behind the show want to serve alcohol from 10am to 11pm on Sunday and Thursday, and then until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Licensing chiefs are due to rule on the application on Monday evening.

One objector who contacted Islington Council said: “The area occupied by Pear Tree Street is narrow, with a number of tall buildings, which creates a sound canyon effect meaning the noise coming from music and people ­leaving after having had alcohol at a potential premises will echo across every floor of every building in the close proximity of the venue.

The proposed theatre venue at Laser House

“Having previously had experience by a number of one-off events held at Laser House, there is a very poor sound isolation and the noise caused by both ­revellers inside and ­outside is extremely disturbing to those located directly opposite.”

Another neighbour said: “This proposal ­represents a full-on onslaught to the residential character of this location and will create an extraordinarily high likelihood of public nuisance in the form of noise, late-night rowdiness, public drunkenness, traffic and noise until late at night every night.”

There have, however, been four supporting ­letters: the manager of Sun Cafe in Goswell Road said it is “great” that the building would be brought “back to life”.

The organisers do not describe in-depth what their theatre experience entails in the application but in response to concerns said they do not propose a new licence for a “late-night alcohol-led bar or nightclub”.

Jon Scott, from Ellipsis, said the primary purpose of the venue will be for visitors “to enjoy the theatrical performances inside the premises” and reassured residents they have employed one of the UK’s leading sound consultancies to help with sound-proofing.

Responding to fears of drug dealing, urination and littering, Mr Scott said: “We would not ­tolerate this type of behaviour under any ­circumstances and we do not expect theatre-goers to be associated with this activity.”

The company would also have to seek planning permission to use the building as a theatre space.

Connie Harrison, creative director at dotdotdot, the production company behind the experience, said in a statement: “In Somnai, we’ve focused entirely on how people feel, keeping participants in the moment and allowing them to forget about the outside world. We don’t want to give too much away, but Somnai is as uplifting and magical as it is dark and sinister, because not all dreams are sweet.”


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