Hunted, an immersive theatre experience written by Bertie Watkins with CoLab theatre, promises an intense experience for audiences – and it delivers.
The adrenalin kicks in before the show even begins with a detailed communication explaining that EMERGENCY PROTOCOL 74 has been activated, and it is from this moment that audience members are thrown into the storyline.
Not much information is divulged, but the basic premise is that each participant is an unwilling carrier of a ‘cure’ and is being hunted by as unknown group. From an exciting start in Waterloo the audience are guided by voice recording to a secret location in London Bridge, as it becomes clear they’re being followed.
Along the way secret packages are received and delivered and audience members split up then reunited. The voice recordings are well executed and extremely detailed, ensuring no one gets lost but the suspense remains high, as no theatre staff or actors are present. Participants only meet fellow audience members once a specific destination is reached and from there everyone is thrown into the plot together. The entire production then becomes a collaboration not only between participants and the actors, but the group as a whole.
Following various instructions, evading capture and going on the run, the groups are led to a secret location and within the ‘pervasive theatre’ space the story unfolds.
While there are a lot of genuine thrills throughout the production and an extension and imaginative use of props, there are elements that the more cynical audience members may not play along with. The beginning gimmick involving the voice recording could be seen to drag a little too long – but sending members on different routes is a nice touch that will put the more tentative members of the group on edge. Similarly the storyline could be better expanded upon once ‘safe’ so as to flesh out the believability of the plot and answer any questions the audience has – of which there are many.
Some elements from within the secret location could be improved upon, too. Without giving too much away, some scenes could benefit from putting the participants more on edge by again increasing the tension and breaking the group up, to really remove people from their comfort zone. By increasing the time spent within the secret location – easily achievable by shortening the first section – and refining some of the action inside, this could definitely become a theatrical game-changer.
The dedicated actors, who despite unsure or unwilling participants, kept suspense high and remained consummately professional, remaining in character until the bitter end.
This show is not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for people unwilling to get stuck-in. It is a unique show that certainly pushes the fourth wall and places the audience right into the centre of the story.
Hunted runs until the 26th of November at The Vaults, London SE1. Get tickets HERE.