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  • Writer's pictureImmersive Rumours

Review: The Descent by COLAB Theatre

A journey into the Underworld for 20 guests a performance, COLAB Theatre's modern-day retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice opens in their brand new venue on the Southbank.


Immersive Rumours received complimentary tickets to this show and as such, are disclosing this information before our review. They have had no input in the below and all thoughts are our own.

Press Still for The Descent

Following a year-long silence from COLAB Theatre, the immersive theatre company returns with a brand-new show - The Descent - which sees guests join Orpheus on a journey into the Underworld to try and save their wife, Eurydice.


Situated in their brand new venue near London Bridge, the show takes place across multiple floors of their new creative hub - which is also available for fellow creatives to use for everything from office space to rehearsals and workshops.


Based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, the show's opening sees guests invited into a boardroom to hear a pitch from Orpheus. He's inviting us to invest in Look Back Industries, a somewhat shady-sounding company that is working to both delay death and bring those who have passed back to life.


This pitch is soon interrupted by an urgent phone call - we learn that company co-founder Eurydice has passed away after being bitten. Orpheus asks us to assist in bringing back his wife from the Underworld in exchange for a share in the company. With that, our descent into the Underworld begins...

Photo for The Descent by COLAB Theatre

Photo: Alex Walton


Taking place across the basement floor of their new venue, guided only by Orpheus' torchlight, we sheepishly creep through dark corridors and rooms. The tension builds as we venture deeper into the bowels of the building, with a number of jumpscares culminating in our group being cornered in a walk-in freezer as demons patrol outside. It's an effective sequence that saw a good amount of screaming from members of our group, especially when several were singled out to either hold closed the doors that stood between us and the demons or check previously unexplored rooms.


Shortly after, crowded around a small computer screen, we're told we must find four specimens from previous experiments that are locked away within the facility. Combining all of them will serve as an offering to Hades, King of the Underworld, and ensure Eurydice's safe passage home.

The Descent Poster

The impact of the show's scares, alongside your ability to be part of the story in a meaningful way, is sadly hampered by the group size. With each performance holding 20 people, it's too large of a group for everyone to have agency. Our group of 20 is at one point tasked with locating the breakers to restore power to the building - a task that requires 4 people at best.


Later we're encouraged to split into four sub-groups - each focused on finding one of the previously mentioned specimens. While this alleviates some of the group size issues, most of the show's scariest moments were behind us by then, so you were more likely to just hear people's reactions on either side of you than witness the scares first-hand.


Besides the various Underworld inhabitants we briefly encounter throughout the show, Orpheus (Alex Walton) is the only constant in the show. By acting as the sole narrative driver, as well as being tasked with keeping on top of what 20 people are doing at one time, they've got their work cut out for them.


While it's not the scariest experience we've had this Halloween season, The Descent does more than enough to be an engaging and fun piece of immersive theatre. We walked away having made friends with several other attendees, and the collective experience of walking through the largely deserted basement of the building with little more than a barely-working torch did leave us somewhat rattled at times.


We know COLAB Theatre have further shows planned for the near future, and as a showcase of their new space The Descent does a good job of laying the foundations for it being their new home for immersive work, even if this show doesn't quite reach the full potential of its premise.


★★★½

 

The Descent runs until 18th November near London Bridge. Tickets are priced at £28 and can be booked here.

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