The Gunpowder Plot takes audiences through the final 24 hours of one of the most crucial events in British history. It seamlessly combines live actors, virtual reality and traditional theatrical elements to deliver complete immersion to audience members. Live action scenes, in which audiences might be asked to decipher a code, deliver information to gain entry to a safe house, or carry barrels of gunpowder into vaults under the Houses of Parliament, are weaved together with scenes in virtual reality. In these virtual reality scenes the audience sail down the Thames with Guy Fawkes, help a priest escape from the Tower of London, and witness Guy Fawkes’ death sentencing.
In The Gunpowder Plot, the audiences don’t just watch the actors performing in front of them, but are an essential part of the scenes themselves. Surrounded by feature quality sets the audience are thrust into the heart of the action. Tasked with carrying information, decoding ciphers and even rescuing characters, the audience play an essential role in the experience, making it truly immersive. The experience even has two different endings, which are performed for the audience based on a choice that they must collectively make mid-way through.
The experience has been given 5 stars by the Times, who said that it is ‘stunning’. Time Out wrote that it “sets a new gold standard” and Design My Night said that it’s ‘London’s most exciting immersive experience of 2022.
respond to and interact with the actors. Improvisation rehearsals prepare the actors to respond in-world and in character to anything the audience might throw at them, which furthers the immersive feeling for the audience that this is a fully realised world that they have stepped into. Close work with Historic Royal Palaces also ensures that these improvisational moments are historically accurate, so that the audience feel as though their interactions are pushing the boundaries of the scene out into something that is as concrete and secure as the scripted content the actors deliver them.
Theatrical sets – the sets that the audience find themselves in, across a 25,000sq foot site in the vaults of the Tower of London, have been designed by Tim McQuillen-Wright to transport the audience back to 1605. Due to the nature of the experience, and the free way in which an audience is allowed to move around a room, every inch of the show spaces is designed in a historically accurate way and joins with the technology and the actors to fully realise the world of the story. Across the experience, the audience find themselves in the walls of the Tower of London, a Jacobean safe house, a pub and the vaults under the Houses of Parliament, and each space looks, feels and smells as it might have done back in 1605. Small details, such as a window in the walls of the Tower set, with a projection behind so it really feels as though you are looking out onto Tower Hill, enhance audience immersion in the story.
The combination of all of the above helps the audience to feel truly immersed in the story. A base of the latest performance technology, movie quality set designs and sense manipulation forms the perfect platform for live actors to lead the audience through the story, interacting and engaging with them as an equal scene partner, and deliver them true immersion.
The quality of that base ensures that the audience is truly immersed, transporting them back in time to London in 1605. Once the audience feel the fear, cold, adrenaline, excitement or panic of the characters, they have no choice but to start to believe that this world they have stepped back into is real for the duration of the experience, and the immersion in that world opens them up to deeper engagement with the story, and a richer overall experience.
Historic Royal Palaces
Hannah Price – Director
Danny Robins – Writer