“Remember, remember the 5th of November”
The Gunpowder Plot is a new, innovative and immersive experience set in the heart of tourist London. The experience takes place in the Tower Vaults, at the UNESCO World Heritage Tower of London. At once, you feel immersed in history as the vaults under Tower Hill are famous for where much of the prelude to the Gunpowder Plot took place.
As an immersive experience, there was huge anticipation before the show started and a tense atmosphere. The introduction by one of the cast members provided much excitement, giving a background to the lead up to the Gunpowder Plot and to life in London in 1605.
The show’s concept is for the audience to live history, instead of watching it. This is not an ordinary format for a show, and for the majority of the experience you are on your feet. This provides incredible exhilaration at first with the actors providing great enthusiasm, making you feel part of the plot. The audience were given cloaks in order to ‘blend in’ to London in 1605, which was a fun touch and a further enhancement to the interactive experience. Credit must be given to the actors who struck the right balance between making the audience feel comfortable and happy to engage, as well as telling the story in the tone required. This involved the right amount of audience participation, and no one seemed to feel awkward.
A highlight of the layered reality experience was the use of virtual reality. Used at three different stages within the show, it was incorporated appropriately. With a variation of seated and standing experiences which included flying and sailing, the virtual reality was an experience to remember.
Tom Felton as Guy Fawkes only made a brief appearance within the virtual reality. This is specified as you read further into the Cast & Crew on the website, however the advertising of the show implies that Felton plays a live major role. His voice is used throughout, and in particular when the audience meets Guy Fawkes. However, the actor portraying Guy Fawkes has little to work with as his face is covered as Felton’s voice recording delivers the climax speech of the show.
As a piece of theatre, it was often difficult to focus on the actors themselves and their chemistry, but this was due to the form of the show. Each actor had a role to transport the audience from one plotline to another which was achieved. Due to the fleeting nature of the performances, characters and the plot were sometimes confused. There was a short interval which was set in a replica of the Duck & Drake Pub, where some of the plot’s plans were finalised. While the segue to the interval was smooth and audience members were able to enjoy a refreshment, momentum was lost for the second half of the show. At times, there was a prolonged wait for the next section of the show, which caused further lapse of concentration.
The costumes and set design, while simple, were effective and provided great atmosphere for the show’s setting. The lighting, sound and special effects were used to full advantage, creating a full 360 environment. The effects surprised the audience and kept them on their toes. For those looking for two hours of immersive and innovative fun, The Gunpowder Plot is the perfect experience and a great day out, while incorporating some of London’s most famous history.
The Gunpowder Plot is currently showing as part of a tourist attraction in the Tower Hill Vaults, tickets can be purchased from the website https://gunpowderimmersive.com/#content
Reviewer: Maani Way
Reviewed: 23rd July 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★