Review: Jekyll / Hyde, VAULT Festival

The Vaults really is a hidden gem. It’s one of London’s most exciting theatre venues, not just for the incredible turnaround of shows, where you can literally watch three plus shows in one night (and believe me, I have done numerous times), but for the atmosphere too. Located in underground tunnels, graffitied by magical, impressive pieces from the floor to the ceiling and everywhere in between. If the alcohol served from the many bars do not prepare your mind to be opened to an evening of entertainment, the splendid inhalation of paint fumes will.

Putting our modern lives on hold for the night, it is exciting to be welcomed by Victorian characters who easily pull us from the future and take us back into the past, by portraying characters from an old London but also by very skilfully convincing us, that we the audience have actually forgotten what we got up to last night. I laugh as my friend Tom tries to play along, confirming to the actors that he had indeed last night “seen the world through different eyes” and promises to do his best to ‘uncover the truth. Giggling nervously like school children, we logged into the mobile app under our chosen team name ‘Seizure Salad’ – and guided by the actors, we began following the instructions. 

This scavenger hunt has been put together by the company, Fire Hazard Games who have created not just a guide instructing us where to go, but a narrative where the story seems to be unravelling under our control. We decide where we go based on the consequences of our actions and the clues that we manage to unravel along the way. I have experienced various group activities of a similar set up, but the quality of this app is pretty much flawless. It’s fast, clear, imaginative, the battery on my iPhone doesn’t seem to be affected and also doesn’t seem to rely on internet at all. It is mind blowing and the fact the actors seem to know every movement we make based on every click we press, I can’t help but feel I’m being watched or tricked. It definitely adds a slight scare factor.

As we make our way through the dark, sinister surroundings of the London Waterloo area, we are very much free to go wild as our adrenalin kicks in with the curiosity of the unknown. Thankfully, three characters, obvious by their Victorian dress with perfectly placed red carnation pin, each seem to appear, as if out of nowhere at the first signs of any confusion, ready and willing to lead us down the correct path. Or are they? We are greeted first by Goldmann the Psychoanalyst (played by Grace Blackman, doing a terrific job with mind control), then Edmonton the Lawyer (played by Tim Kennington), who persuades us to trust him. Too bad we have decided that you can never trust anyone (as friendly as he is), which is probably why we end up been welcomed by Frey the Chemist (Daniel Chrisostomou, who acts the deranged role somewhat too convincingly).

When nearing the end of our experience, I’m in awe of how much work has clearly gone into making this event happen without any major flaws (if you don’t count the local neighbours eerily opening doors and windows to peek suspiciously at us). Jekyll / Hyde has loads of potential and should most definitely become a permanent attraction in the area.

Jekyll / Hyde runs as part of Vault Festival until 22 March 2020. For more information visit the VAULT Festival website.