When I was invited to go along and experience Project X, a London street theatre show set in London’s Covent Garden, I was intrigued. Its website is quite cryptic, so I didn’t have much to go on. So I’d say the best way to find more out about this hidden gem is to do what Sharps and I did and go along.
Without giving too much of the plot way there’s a lot of time travel involved, the story is set in 2101. Once you get your booking confirmation details you’re sent some instructions in preparation for a parole hearing you have to attend. On arrival at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden (a hidden gem in itself that your ticket to Project X gives you free entry to on another day) we were herded down some stairs to await our hearing with the other ‘prisoners’. There were about 20 of us in total.
After being given new identities we were spilt into two groups, the idea being we work as a team to solve the mystery. It’s kind of a Treasure Hunt meets Cluedo type experience, there were even all-in-one jumpsuits (worn by the parole officers and thankfully not any of the audience) as we began a mad dash around Covent Garden trying to solve the clues to save the future of the world and secure our passage to freedom.
It’s quite surreal, especially as the performances are only at weekends (between 11am to 3pm), when Covent Garden is heaving with throngs of tourists. But this simply adds to the fun. At one point our group was at an assignation point with one of the characters in a public place. We overheard a lady say to hear friends, ‘Did you hear what she just said to them? Do you have any idea what you’re asking for?’ and looked suitably horrified and perplexed as she saw us being led off into another room. Our hearing started at 3pm and our show ended at 5.15pm (performance lengths differ depending on how long groups take) which may sound quite long but it flew by.
The concept was devised by the team at Trade Secrets, a creative training and development agency run by actor and director Sam Bond. It took them 12-16 months to revise the plot before it was rolled out in conjunction with the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, where most of the inside action takes place. No experience is ever the same as it relies on the interaction of the people taking part and when you’re there you really do just have to go with it. If you’re after some serous theatre this probably isn’t the show for you as anything can happen. The actors are brilliant at improvising in response to the audience and Project X has recently been nominated for an Off West End Theatre Award which recognises pop-up and immersive theatre.
Project X tickets cost £30 and the current run finishes on 16 December 2012 so if you’re quick there’s still time to book tickets online. Or you can call 0207 565 7298 to book over the phone. Organisers are hoping to return with Project Y next year so I’ll keep you posted on this hidden gem as as it’s London street theatre at its best.