Review: Jekyll and Hyde (Vault Festival 2020)
The concept for this show intrigued me the second I heard about it. Taking inspiration from movies/video games and combining it with theatre to create an experience that is led by the audience and centred around adventure makes for a fascinating proposition. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of the actual experience far, far outweigh the positives.
The experience that Fire Hazard Games attempts to create for an audience, or rather their players, feels entirely individual. The Jekyll and Hyde game itself smashes together the idea of theatrics and escape rooms, whereby you have to find clues, make choices and solve puzzles, sandwiched between two short performances that attempt to give context to your situation.
Because this experience is designed to be so individual, I can only comment specifically on the issues that befell me personally. First of all, the email that gave me a briefing on where and when to arrive completely skipped out the when part. It literally said meet us at (insert time here). This resulted in me arriving five minutes before the specified time for the performance on the ticket site, which appeared to be late as other teams had already begun and were well in the thick of things. Being rushed through this section of the piece felt rather discouraging, but only being able to complete a small portion before the beginning exposition took place and all teams were thrown into the guts of London was rage inducing.
Because of this careless mishandling of the moving cogs that are their audience, I missed out on what was possibly the most crucial part of this frantic tutorial, the clues. It would appear that many others were experiencing similar issues at the same time as me, as only on the sixth attempt at calling their confused player fail-safe number did I actually get through to someone that was able to explain the relatively simple formula to me. This was after over half an hour of bewildered traipsing through the streets of Waterloo on a very cold and windy February evening.
After establishing exactly what I needed to do, I was very quickly met with another big problem. The clues have nothing to do with the story. There's nothing that you're actually searching for that has any relevance to the game itself, nor indeed to Jekyll and Hyde. Nothing is planted by the production team. Everything that you actively search for lies in the scenery around the specific location that you often have walked hundreds of metres to reach. The clues unlock memories and you read the memories on an interactive website created by Tony Porteous, a good time to mention this is perhaps the only redeeming part of the experience. But as a tired, frustrated and cold player, the heavy handedness of this system serves to be counter-intuitive.
The three actors in the performance do their best to recreate Victorian era characters. You have: Frey (The Chemist), played by Daniel Chrisostomou, who wants you to develop his serum and create the perfect being, Edmonton (The Lawyer), played by Tim Kennington, who wants to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure justice is delivered, and Goldmann, (The Psychoanalyst), played by Chloe Mashiter who is inspecting the potential mental damage the serum Frey created can cause. Honestly, the story is paper-thin and isn't helped by doing seemingly irrelevant tasks. As well as this, unfortunately, Frey introduced himself as Goldmann leaving a lot of players befuddled.
The potential for the Jekyll and Hyde to be great fun is tantalisingly within reach, but is ruined by a plethora of small errors.
Jekyll and Hyde is on as part of the Vault Festival until the 22nd of March. Tickets available here - https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/jekyll-and-hyde/
Photo by Sofia Romualdo