Lost Origin at Hoxton Docks - review
Immersive theatre doesn't come much slicker than this
Interactive theatre has often occupied a slightly curious position – how exactly should these experiences be classified? Is this strictly "drama", more akin to an escape room or something in between? As far as Lost Origin is concerned, none of these questions feel particularly relevant or necessary because put simply, this is a really fun and imaginative way to escape for an hour.
During the production theatregoers form teams of up to six called Wing 7, an undercover spy unit trying to uncover the mastermind behind an illegal dark web marketplace. The site for the mission is a Hoxton warehouse but rest assured this isn't a case of people being flung into one large cold space and asked to interact with one another. Each team is directed from room to room by characters Marsha and Tom, the former being a physical presence throughout the mission and the latter managing from base - think Bond and Q vibes.
Both Marsha and Tom are humorous and deal with everything that comes their way with aplomb, but above the characters the real jewel in Lost Origin's crown is the level of production value on show. Creeping through the warehouse on the hunt for our villain, the way in which Factory 42 and the Almeida have incorporated different types of technology into the experience is seriously impressive. There are robot AI systems, plasma TV screens with live footage and supernatural elements which become more prevalent as the mission develops.
It genuinely feels like being on a movie set at times, as either Lara Croft or James Bond stalking around dark corners searching for clues to catch the baddie. The narrative takes an interesting turn halfway round Lost Origin when one woman's ignored archeological discovery becomes a central theme to the plot. Without giving too much away, the action builds to a climax involving VR headsets, dinosaurs and swamps. Whilst VR is clearly the ace in the sleeve during this moment, the swamp room even has an identifiable smell which is indicative of the kind of care and attention that has gone into this production. There has been clear thought about how to interact with visitors on every sensory level.
Lost Origin does a fantastic job of blending high quality production value with a relevant and fresh storyline, whilst allowing room for the personalities of individual team members to come through as well. Occasionally, interactive theatre can have a tendency to feel slightly forced or awkward but this is not an accusation you could level at Lost Origin. The energy in the group continues to build throughout and it's impossible not to be sucked into this engaging world for an hour.