Standing in the main ticket hall of Waterloo station, everyone looks around suspiciously at each other. Nobody can be trusted, and with good reason, the audience are being hunted.
This new immersive endeavour by COLAB is a mash-up of all the things they are known for; a mix of technology based story-telling and thrilling immersive theatre. Hunted lands you in the heart of London where no-one is trustworthy and you must navigate the streets to find safety.
There is always a thin line to be tread when reviewing immersive theatre. You want to get across what the show is about without giving away any twists or plot points. This isn’t theatre as you expect it. There are no proscenium arches (though we do meet at a giant arch at one point) and the plot isn’t already known as with most established works. So what can we say? Well, at the heart of the show is you. You are special. You are important. This is essential to great immersive theatre. You ought to feel like you have a choice or influence over the direction of the show. This works to varying degrees depending on the type of show. During a Punchdrunk show for example, where you take on the role of a voyeur, you aren’t expecting to change anything, but when you are the centre of a story you need to feel like you have influence and here you do.The difficulty for theatre of this nature is making it challenging but also achievable for as many people as possible. Co-Lab manage this in many ways, but this is definitely a show of two halves. The first half proved challenging; if you don’t pay attention or your technology fails you, you will get turned around. The team dealt well with such instances, but the result is the world you feel suspended in becomes fractures and suddenly you are just walking through London with headphones.
In the second half of the show, things amp up and it gets rather exciting. You have to act quickly, intelligently and as a team to move forward. Some tasks are easier than others and more of a challenge would have been more satisfying, but again, we come back to the differing levels of ability from audience members. There is a feeling of control over certain aspects of the show, which is great news for any immersive fans, but, as with most immersive theatre, you need to get through the plot so you are led towards the finish point no matter what you do. This isn’t obvious though, and it is due to the charisma and confidence of the Keeper, the audiences guide. The show lives and dies with him. Our Keeper was fantastic. He was quick-witted, funny and made sure we were given time consider things but also moved us on when we needed it.The let down of the show is the finale. There is a moment of high tension that works very well, however, there it is ultimately an anti-climax. A shame as the rest of the show was very well put together.
Hunted successfully merges the use of technology and good story-telling to create a fast-paced and thrilling drama that keeps you on your toes at all times. With the exception of the ending, the show was enjoyable and exciting time throughout. It’s great to see theatre-makers delving into the idea of theatre that focuses on the audience member. And it was a successful endeavour; we were made to feel special for a couple hours, and that is definitely worth the price of entry.
Go see this show with a sense of adventure and mystery, keeps your wits about you and you’ll do fine.
Hunted runs until the 26th of November in the Waterloo area.
Tickets and more info can be found on the website