Lost Origin at Hoxton Docks
New, mixed reality theatre production Lost Origin is an interactive experience created by Almeida Theatre in conjunction with Factory 42 and Sky, taking place in Hoxton Docks. Following a brief wait in the reception, visitors are taken outside by a member of the surveillance team, then ushered into a room, not unlike a bunker.
On the night of our visit, we are with Logan (Will Bliss) and Marsha (Daisy Badger), the latter taking on a harried and skittish persona. Under covert operations unit Wing 7, groups of up to six work together to investigate the activities of a criminal mastermind called Haggledance. Suspicions remain that illegal transactions are being conducted using Origin headquarters as a front.
The combination of an agitated character like Marsha and being swiftly led into the control room makes for a scattered and confusing introduction to Lost Origin. However, things gradually begin to coalesce. Entering the first room, a puzzle must be solved to gain access to the next. In a space filled with unique contraband – rhino horn powder, organs, Covid-19 vaccines – and the latest clue through a computer desk and iPad, Marsha suggests there may be some paranormal activity, and slowly the puzzling story begins to make a little more sense, albeit still containing mystery.
A journal from the past is discovered where a woman named Gerell (Jodie Whittaker) unearthed a new species of dinosaur. Following this discovery, we find ourselves in a large room, with wall-to-wall caves made from cardboard carton material. Here, Gerell’s findings are illustrated and magnified on the walls, with the opportunity to wave our arms around to form her ectoplasm. With naturalistic visuals and an interactive feel, this part of the show is entertaining. The journey continues with Marsha leading the way in preventing Haggledance from selling the dinosaur specimen.
The highlight of Lost Origin is no doubt the moment state-of-the-art Magic Leap headsets meet imagination, creating visualisations that come to vivid and breathtaking life. Emerging from nifty portals, the dinosaurs are towering beasts that even include a Tyrannosaurus rex; they are not for the faint-hearted. By using one’s arms to expand the information, classifications can be read while the dinosaurs approach, sharply recalling scenes from Jurassic Park.
The tricky storytelling has the potential to be better streamlined because, despite a large budget, the hour-long show leaves something lacking. However, the creatives have their finger on the future of theatre, and it will be genuinely exciting to see what they have planned next.
Lost Origin is at Hoxton Docks from 21st November until 4th December 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.