Fire Hazard Game’s latest innovation in tech-based immersive storytelling takes Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story of Jekyll and Hyde off the page, out of the Vault Festival space and into the surrounding area of Waterloo.
Once the safety announcements have been rattled through, teams of players take on the role of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. After a brief tutorial section (that, while informative, actually ended up slightly confusing the audience at first) under the cover of Leake Street Arches, the audience is then set free into the city to follow maps, find clues and speak to various original characters, in order to piece together what happened to them the night before. Everybody’s story is different, and every choice you make shapes the path you’re on – no one will get to do everything in this game, but the more committed you are to quickfire problem-solving and pelting around Lambeth, the bigger the experience will be.
The story is a real hoot, and the more ‘memories’ you uncover throughout the game, the more you can see how much fun the writers had putting it together. Realising that our character had run naked through London, chased by police in the dead of night, was just one fun detail we uncovered during our session. Clocking at 90 minutes, both you and your phone will need some stamina – the locations are spread wide, but if you’re up for a jog, the rewards are worth the travel.
The tech was effective whilst still retaining simplicity – as well as a physical map, you would receive photos of locations alongside clues related to the area pictured. As a seasoned Londoner, this reviewer was able to barrel onwards to at least nine of the locations from memory alone, but tourists and those unfamiliar with Waterloo may want to take a sneaky peek at Google Maps to speed themselves along. The clues were just the right side of tricky – some were instantly spottable, while others required deeper thought. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a real 19th century detective (with a smartphone in hand), then Jekyll/Hyde is the show for you.
A strong point of the show was how few actors were involved. With only three cast members (Daniel Chrisostomou, Tim Kennington and Chloe Mashiter) popping in and leading the charge, you’d expect to feel shortchanged – not the case at all. Each actor puts in 110%, often engaging in long improvisations to keep the story moving. Sure, occasionally they run out of steam, but only in moments where the audience are forced to wait for latecomers.
There are parts of the show that definitely need cutting – both the opening and closing speeches run on for far too long, and require both audience and actors to stand around chatting for longer than is comfortable in February weather, but for the most part you’re the master of the show’s pace. Fancy a leisurely stroll around London? Take your time. Want to see as much of the story as possible? Grab your running shoes.
Jekyll/Hyde is a triumph in the new wave of immersive theatre – a sprawling story that lets you turn the pages at your leisure. The choice is yours, but our recommendation is to catch it while you can.