Can you survive interactive thriller The Drop?
- Credit: Courtesy Swamp Motel
Hackney-based immersive theatre company Swamp Motel kept thousands entertained during lockdown with their twisty internet mysteries where players followed a series of clues across real and fake websites.
Now they are back in real life with The Drop. Staged in a former East London betting shop, it's an interactive theatrical thriller that puts audiences at the heart of a story about a valuable book and a centuries-old secret.
Known as The Great Omar, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, inlaid with precious gems by London bookbinders Sangorski & Sutcliffe, was sold at auction in 1912 and placed on a ship to New York. The RMS Titanic plunged to the sea bed taking the book's secrets with her. Now audiences must delve into London's criminal underworld to uncover them.
Ollie Jones who co-founded Swamp Motel with fellow Hackney resident Clem Garrity, promises "peril and excitement" and says they have drawn on the success of the Isklander Trilogy, which pivoted their live work into virtual race-against-the-clock detective puzzlers during Covid.
"We realised the online potential during lockdown of a self guided story meted out in chunks which required your interaction to push it forward, and we've tried to learn from that experience," he says. "We wanted to do something live for a long while and this interactive thriller is an event where you aren't really the audience but the lead characters in your own adventure story which won't move forward without your input."
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The show starts in a lift with up to four taking part at a time. Lighting, sound effects and other technical wizardry creates a multisensory experience and at least one person needs a smartphone - although "help is on hand to ensure no-one gets stuck in it forever."
Unlike the online mysteries, The Drop is less about "mental heavy lifting" and more about interacting with the physical space and working together to uncover the enigma. "Passionate gamer" Jones believes video games have increased audience's appetite for an experience that "happens to you rather than in front of you".
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"A narrative they can be deeply surrounded by has a lot more in common with video games and ticks the box that cinema and theatre can't. It's a new way to tell a story, taking theatre to the next level. There's a huge appeal in being physically transported somewhere else, in an adventure driven by audience interaction that blurs the boundary between reality and fiction."
The Drop previews from October 28 and runs until December 31 at 55 Aldgate High Street. Suitable for ages 16+. https://thedropexperience.co.uk/