This is the closest thing you’ll get to time travel.

Credit: Mark Dawson

There are more and more immersive experiences popping up in London, and I am here for it. The Gunpowder Plot, put on by Layered Reality in partnership with Historic Royal Palaces, combines living history – i.e. the setting being the Tower of London – with virtual reality. The atmosphere of the dark, cold, stone underground combined with stellar performances by the cast made this immersive experience truly memorable and one of the absolute best things you can do in London right now.

I won’t give away too much about the experience, but I can say it is thrilling. You do not need to know about the plot to enjoy the experience (as an American I only knew a little); they explain it and the events that led up to it very well. The mood is immediately set with the first character you meet – an imprisoned Catholic man awaiting execution. The experience not only puts you physically in 1606, but also mentally, with the characters asking you the hard questions: “What lengths would you go to for your religion?” “Is faith stronger than fear?” “Do the deaths of hundreds of people justify the end of Catholic persecution?”

Credit: Mark Dawson

I am always immensely impressed by immersive actors’ abilities to stay in character and engage with participants. Josh Loki as Thomas was commanding and powerful; I fully believed in his ability to lead us out of the tower, and he had a great connection with our group. Zoe Moore as Lady Cecil was captivating and possessed an air of authority and confidence that made me want to do exactly as she said without question. The stand-out actor is, of course, Tom Felton, who we see as Guy Fawkes in virtual reality. I appreciated the direction Hannah Price (creative director) and Danny Robins (writer) took with the question of morality behind the (in)famous Guy Fawkes; you are challenged to question whether he was a villain or activist.

Credit: Mark Dawson

It may seem like having advanced technology in such an old setting would be off-putting, but this is not at all the case. The virtual reality experiences and projection mapping only add to the production as a whole. The transition from virtual to real-life is seamless. Amy and I had big smiles on our faces after each VR experience.

The production rounded out the experience at the end by giving a small, real-life history lesson where you learn about the people who inspired the characters in The Gunpowder Plot. Overall, this is a exciting experience that I cannot recommend enough.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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