Retail – Theatre Is Everywhere…

Adam Wollerton

This week’s review is something a little bit different. Being a theatre professional, I always look for how art and theatre can adapt – audiences love a bit of change. It occurred to me whilst out for a day in London, just how theatrical everyday life is! Theatre creeps into every aspect of your lives, even in something as simple as shopping.

Sometimes you can walk into a shop and find yourself aimlessly walking around looking at stuff, picking things up in a ‘I don’t really need this but I want to buy something’ way, and eventually leaving lighter in the pocket but not all that satisfied. However, some shops really give you something extra, and you leave with that bag in hand making sure that it’s the one that everyone who’s passing may chance to glance at.


Let’s look at one of my favourites – Abercrombie and Fitch. Who doesn’t love buying a £90 hoodie? – My bank balance. However, you do feel amazing when you have one. So, to the theatre of Abercrombie and Fitch! In a shop plummeted into the darkness of spotlighted clothes, the American surfing top 40 soundtrack, and the god amongst men staff emanating beauty (or at least they are when the lights are this dim), you have to stop for a second and realise that this shop is a theatre itself. With proper lighting and on a normal high street it would just be an overpriced shop. It’s the theatre involved in shopping in that cave of beauty and expense that makes consumers believe that what they are buying is worth the money. The clothes play host to us as we walk into a seemingly amazing house party filled with pretty people and loud music, tempting us to buy them with their tantalising touch, sensational scents, and warm glows under the soft lights above. So theatrical. They even have their staff members dancing up on the balcony above, what is that if not theatre right there in front of you?

It’s odd how the smell of Abercrombie, and its sister company Hollister, is now associated with the buildings in which they appear. The smell and the rest of the atmosphere created in these places by their choice of theatrics is all a ploy to encourage consumers to spend money in their shops. Another place that uses this well is Apple.

This hi-tech haven is kitted out to present consumers with glimpse of a not so distant future as spearheaded by Apple. Stripped back to simple white, glass floors, plain wooden tables, and glossy screens cleaned multiple times throughout the day, Apple keeps itself feeling and looking fresh and futuristic.

So how is this like theatre? Well, the layout of these stores creates the set in which the cast (your general service people and assistants) can play about the space. In Apple, each team member is associated with a title, bringing even more creativity and theatre into their everyday operations. Here, we also have the daily talks and tutorials on various Mac associated tasks where one of the team will present to the public.

The fact is that when we are shopping, we love to feel special. The very theatrical stigma attached to shopping on Oxford Street is a prime example. It is seen as such a big thing. Going into places like Hamley’s, which feels like you should have a camera crew following you around filming you for some dream-come-true scene in a new American chick-flick, really demonstrates how theatrical retail can be. Hamley’s emanates fun with floor upon floor of toys and gadgets.

Then we have Selfridges, which recently made its debut on our television screens, with its linked rooms of wonder and labels. It’s simply brilliant to be led from room to room of clothes, to gadgets, to counters filled with food.

Theatre does not just belong on a stage. For one day,take note of the interactions and actions you make throughout the day, sense what is around you, and really take in how theatrical moments can be hidden in your everyday routines and how these influence you. Theatre is everywhere.


About Adam Wollerton

Adam is a Writer and Director of Off-West End and West End Theatre Productions. He is also the Co-Founder of Curious Tales Theatre Company and is the author of LoveStuck: A New Musical.