Hackney-based immersive theater company Swamp Motel entertained thousands of people during the lockdown with their twisty internet mysteries where players followed a series of clues to real and fake websites.
Now they’re back in real life with The Drop. Staged in a former Paris store in East London, it’s an interactive theatrical thriller that puts audiences at the heart of a story about a treasured book and centuries-old secret.
Known as The Great Omar, a gem-encrusted copy of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat by London bookbinders Sangorski & Sutcliffe was auctioned off in 1912 and placed on a ship bound for New York. The RMS Titanic plunged into the seabed, taking the secrets of the book with it. Now the public must delve into the criminal underworld of London to find out.
Ollie Jones, who co-founded Swamp Motel with Clem Garrity, another Hackney resident, promises “peril and excitement” and says they were inspired by the success of the Isklander trilogy, which pivoted their live work into time trial virtual sleuth puzzles. during the covid.
“We realized the potential online during the lockdown of a self-guided story told in pieces that required your interaction to move it forward, and we tried to learn from that experience,” he said. “We have wanted to do something live for a long time and this interactive thriller is an event where you are not really the audience but the main characters in your own adventure story that will not move forward without your input.”
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The show begins in an elevator with up to four participants at a time. Lighting, sound effects and other technical wonders create a multisensory experience and at least one person needs a smartphone – although “help is available to ensure that no one gets stuck in it forever.”
Unlike online mysteries, The Drop is less about “heavy lifting mentally” and more about interacting with physical space and working together to uncover the riddle. “Passionate gamer” Jones believes video games have increased the appetite of audiences for an experience that “happens to you rather than in front of you.”
“A narrative that they can be deeply surrounded by has a lot more in common with video games and ticks the box that film and theater cannot. It’s a new way of telling a story, taking theater to the next level. There is a huge appeal in being physically transported elsewhere, on an adventure driven by audience interaction that blurs the line between fact and fiction. “
The Drop premieres from October 28 through December 31 at 55 Aldgate High Street. Suitable for over 16 years old. https://thedropexperience.co.uk/