Let me set the scene - the backdrop; rush hour in central London. The job; find one man in nine million. The time limit; 90 minutes. The lead detective; you.
'The Drop Off' is a brand new immersive experience for first time goers and self-proclaimed theatre lovers alike. What’s unique about this production though, is that it casts the ticket holder in the leading role as a private detective solving a case on the streets of London. Through face-to-face interactions and fugitive style phone calls, you embark on an exhilarating mission to find a seemingly-innocent man under the watchful eye of your devilishly-charming (yet dangerous) boss.
Made up from a mixture of new talent and seasoned performers - from some of the most famed immersive shows of recent years - this is the first, highly-anticipated production from experiential theatre group, The Immersive Ensemble.
So never being shy of a challenge, my accomplice and I ditched our identities, donned our ‘dress to impress’ outfits, and accepted the job to find out just how hard it is to locate one man among a cast of nine million extras.
Little did we know when meeting the two other agents on the street that the four of us were about to embark on the ultimate trial of time and trust, armed with only a brown envelope concealing a private phone, travel card and a character profile to go by.
As we traversed the streets of London we came into contact with characters in every-day working situations, which left us questioning what was reality and how exactly they'd managed to pull this off. Whilst pounding the pavement, our detection skills led us underground, down the Thames and into luxurious London establishments where we sipped on expensive red wines and deliberated crucial decisions that both divided and united our team.
The longer we played the more we started to trust no-one and interrogate everyone, knowing each decision had the potential to alter our fate. Each cast member was bombarded with testing questions, which they instinctively returned with riddles we had little time to decipher. At points, I got so engrossed in the act that I might as well have been wearing tweed, smoking a pipe and holding a magnifying glass.
One of the most exciting parts of this production is how it turns your perception of London on its head. Cleverly taking all the mundane parts of this city that we love to hate and transforming them into integral parts of this thrilling experience. Busy, crowded streets become the backdrop of subtle envelope exchanges, every passer-by is a potential suspect and dark, dirty street corners act as quick refuge to discuss the case away from prying eyes and cameras.
The unique thrill offered by this immersive event over others is that it is a real-time private detective case. There are no walls to this theatre, everyone around you is either leading you, hunting you or getting in the way of you completing your mission. At one stage in everyone's lives, being James Bond has been a fantasy for us, but for one month only the geniuses behind The Immersive Ensemble have finally made it a reality.