Redemption Room at Secret Theatre Online
Throughout the pandemic, it’s often been the imaginative, innovative and interactive experiences that have cast a light as bright as a beacon on the world of theatre – more so than conservative theatre companies. Secret Theatre and their new Redemption Room seem to be of that calibre, promising a fantastic experience with chills ‘n’ thrills, a wonderful build-up, an exciting-looking website and a harrowing trailer. Sadly, after the first 40 minutes, the show takes a complete nosedive and turns into a cliché-ridden horror B-movie. It’s inevitably a letdown, even if the last 20 minutes aren’t that bad compared with other shows.
The audience is invited to watch six fictional celebrities, who have all committed some type of reproachable act during their careers and are now participating in a game of “facing their fears” to “gain redemption” and win a monetary prize. About halfway into the show a demon with a voice even more ridiculous than Christian Bale’s Batman (and even less audible) usurps the stream and ends up killing most of the contestants.
The largest issue with Redemption Room is the discrepancy between build-up and payoff. Before the show, the audience is invited to go online and “get to know” the contestants; one can send them messages, and they even write back with personalised emails. The humour of the writing is top-notch, especially the lines delivered by the show’s host, Rex. At the start, the audience can vote for certain things, but it gradually becomes clear that the results are mostly faked, and after a point one isn’t even given a chance to vote but instead has to sit through some very basic horror material, including not one, but two demonic possessions. The death scenes are also too long and outstay their welcome.
No, it’s a great pity, but Redemption Room could have been much better than it is. The few things that are interesting have been done better elsewhere, and the writers let themselves down by turning their fantastic premise into a cheap horror flick. It would have been preferable just to stick with the premise right to the end – that part was fantastic, and everything before the demon enters the stage is done extremely well. Why throw it out of the window? Therefore, it receives a cautious recommendation: just don’t expect it to be as good as you think it is.
Redemption Room is available to stream via Secret Theatre from 28th February until 18th March 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.