Monday, 13 December 2021

REVIEW: Doctor Who: Time Fracture at UNIT HQ

It's hard to describe how wonderful this immersive adventure is without a few spoilers (so you are warned) but as this is an experience that benefits from multiple visits a little explanation may even make first-time visitors get more out of the trip through time. To start with you don’t have to be a Dr Who nut to enjoy this although they will get extra kicks from the Easter eggs and references. To get the full deep dive into the adventure you do need to be someone who has enjoyed Secret Cinema or is prepared to get involved in the narrative. Having said that with all immersive shows you can still enjoy a visit as a bystander at the bar or observing others in a gentle dance with the cast while you admire the sheer scale and complexity of the production.

In the Prologue, we meet Dr Harry Sullivan (Paul Croft in a wild white wig) who sets the scene and explains we have been selected by the Doctor to assist in saving the Universe from the consequences of a Time Fracture traced to 1942 and warned about levels of Chronon and Arton energy, forms of radiation in Quantum Physics before being introduced to the UNIT scientists in Lab coats and torches in HQ. They ramp up the energy as they explain the nature of the Time Fracture and uncertainty about when in time the explosion that caused it occurred. The set for this scene is extraordinary with many screens with different videos running, sudden light changes and several very good surprises. Are we brave enough to follow the missing Sergeant Robert Dudley (and if the name rings a bell, you are already on the right track!) through the Time Fracture? Since our first visit, this scene setter has been tightened up into a very good dramatic explanation of the journey ahead of us. First-time visitors listen carefully, although they do say things more than once.

In Act 2 we are transported into the multiple worlds of the Time Fracture wherein a few steps you change Periods as you try to figure out what is going on and how to save the Universe. As in all immersive experiences, you get out of this what you put in and the key is to latch on to a story arc and follow it wherever it takes you and get involved. We struck lucky on our second visit and got picked up early by Zoria (Chioma Uma) who we followed throughout the Act and found ourselves in the central story in search of the keys for the Temporal Disruptor. We met Brolls (Gareth Radcliffe) the dodgy dealing junkyard pig on three dramatic encounters, Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Telford) the scientific genius on two telling interventions ( keep an eye on his Mona Lisa painting) and Captain Stephen Davies (James Lawrence) in Torchwood under the watchful eye of Queen Victoria in two visits. In each scene, we had a role to play to assist Zoria. Along the way, we saw The Oud, Queen Elizabeth I and Cybermen as well as many other characters.

Before heading for the Act 3 finale, we have a break in the bar which is Spacecraft ZZ1 heading for Gallifrey to be entertained by some extraordinary alien singers while additional action takes place, and more secrets are revealed in private briefings by Time Lord guides before leaving for the most brilliant part of the experience and an encounter with one of the Doctors most scary foes.

In Act 3 we are in the Gallifrey Council Chamber with the Dalek spaceships circulating outside the safety bubble while the Councillors argue about whether to save the Universe or not and we vote on whether to resurrect Rassilion (Paul Collin-Thomas). Again, the narrative has been tightened up in this Act from its original form and we just about followed the twists and turns before another special guest arrival and the appearance of all the original Doctors on screen for the conclusion to the adventure. 

There is a cast of 42 characters (and in two visits we still failed to meet Shakespeare) and a huge team of stage management and wardrobe that keep it running like clockwork in what must be a very detailed timed running order to coordinate. On the way out you can pick up an excellent Show Companion brochure with their details. Writer Daniel Dingsdale has created a strong storyline (much better than the recent Dr Who and the Flux TV series) and Director Tom Waller has marshalled the team into fast-paced and enjoyable 150-minute experience with plenty to enjoy in Rebecca Brower’s detailed and atmospheric sets. Producers Immersive Everywhere have another winner here alongside their Great Gatsby in the upper floors of the same building that will surely run for as long as the building lease allows.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Immersive | Price of Ticket: £49.50

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