The Drop is a fully participatory immersive show, which puts you and up to three friends into the centre of a thrilling ride.
We arrive at our appointment with our wealth managers. I haven’t realised any of my group are fabulously rich, but you have to roll with the punches. We sign in at reception, and are directed to a meeting room on the third floor. ‘Elevators are just around the corner,’ we are told. Someone has left their briefcase in the lift…
With a successful trilogy of online shows, electrifying groups brought together during lockdown (and continuing) over Zoom, not-so-newcomer Swamp Motel is establishing itself as an expert creator of alternative reality games. In those, teamwork has been key – with one person hacking into the business directory while another tracks down the name of the personnel who might have the code to the safe in – you get the idea. So we arrive at their first in-person show expecting to have to work together to move forwards.
Producers of similar shows might well try to automate everything, with prerecorded interventions and a computerised timeline. The tech here is impressive, but Swamp Motel have always deliberately avoided ‘Press Play and Go’ experiences, understanding that human intervention and a personal touch can be very powerful in creating a dramatic world. A couple of times we are nudged forward in a rather blunt fashion, and in other moments extreme tension dissipated without any real escalation. I’d have liked to see the stress in these moments ratcheting up. With groups entering every fifteen minutes, it’s a marvel that they are able to direct and manage people, but on occasion, we could detect them keeping us to time.
There are certainly escape room elements here, but nothing feels crowbarred in. What works so well is that at each stage the obstacles we face have logical solutions, and we never have a moment to doubt what’s happening.
You might note that I’m dancing around what actually occurs during the experience. That’s because the show is filled with shocks and surprises, and spoilers would remove half the fun. All I can say is that my group is cocky. We think we are wide-eyed and perceptive, alert to every hint and clue… and then we manage to miss something key.
The story is woven richly through the performance, but even more so through the set. We are moving at such a pace that we catch only glimpses. This feels a wise directorial decision – no conspiracy thriller is made more satisfying by letting the audience stare the MacGuffin straight in the face. The refracted glimmers are enough to push us onward. We don’t communicate well enough during our high octane sprint to piece together what of the storyline we each individually uncover. This comes in the pub afterwards.
If you’re wanting a sit-back performance, or suffer from serious claustrophobia, this show might not be for you. But if you want a thrill, which is able to surprise and take you places you don’t expect, you won’t go wrong with The Drop.
Review by Ben Ross
In 1912, two London bookbinders were commissioned to create a luxurious jewelled binding for a book that became known as The Great Omar. Hugely valuable, the book was purchased by a buyer and was packed safely aboard a boat bound for New York. On the 15 of April 1912 the HMS Titanic sank along with the book and a sea of secrets were never recovered. Until now…
In this theatrical thriller, audiences will explore a hidden world created for a maximum of just four people at a time – a uniquely intimate show to share with friends, family and some unexpected characters along the way.
Created and Devised by Clem Garritty, Ollie Jones, Peter Hobday and Sadie Spencer
Producer Will Herman
Designer Clem Garritty
Associate Designer Elouise Farley
Sound Designer Emmet O’Donnell
Creative Technologist Leo Woolcock
Production Manager Dominic Baker
Web Developer James Drury
Graphic Designer Gareth Paul Jones
Opening night Saturday 13 November – Friday 31 December 2021
55 Aldgate High Street, London, EC3N 1AL
Days / Times
Monday – Friday – sessions start at 5.45pm, last session at 10pm
Saturday – Sunday – sessions start at 12pm, last session at 10pm
Run time: Approx 45 minutes
Ages: 14+ (anyone under 18 should be accompanied by an adult)