It is the year 2101, but you are about to be unwittingly transported back to 2012, a strange era in which you will be thrust into a world of conspiracy, intrigue, and murder. That is the premise for Project X, a new piece of immersive performance that sees its audiences travel from the London Transport Museum, throughout Covent Garden, and back again in a unique whodunit.
Unfortunately, my parole letter has informed me that it is illegal to divulge information about key events and individuals to the wider public, so I’m going to have to be discreet. But what I can say is that Project X will completely change the way you look at performance, and your role as the audience. Run by tradesecrets, a company building interactive experiences for both the theatre and business worlds, this piece is undoubtedly an organisational nightmare, with so many elements that could go wrong. Yet all things considered, it ran fairly smoothly, and is a credit to director Sam Bond; throwing fifteen members of the public into a wholly new environment is a risk but one that has proved rewarding.
Although I cannot give details about specific events, I can say that two actors in particular were strong, determined, and fully involved in their roles, making for convincing and occasionally frustrating encounters. The rest of the cast were just as impressive – or so I hear – but who you may meet remains to be seen. The important thing to remember, however, is that the moment you step into the museum, you too are an actor in a play, and your role is not that of the traditional observer. You must be assertive, confident, and intentional throughout the two-hour experience, and watch the way your group respond to the unusual events that unfold around you – that in itself is half the fun.
In this way, Project X explores the boundaries between audience and actor, and asks the question “when does the observer become the observed?”. There were moments when we were being watched by genuine members of the public during rather bizarre conversations – to them, we were the show regardless of our appearance or ignorance. It is performance as you’ve probably never seen before, and something that is incredibly insightful to those willing to suspend their disbelief even further, entering into a whole new dimension of reality and perception.
Project X runs from 11.00am to 3.00pm on Saturdays and Sundays until 4 November 2012. It is around two hours long and involves walking and engaging with actors.