Review

The Lucky Ones: a month-long theatre experience with you at the centre of the plot

You know that feeling that you get when you’ve watched a film or read a book that sticks with you; you are affected by it for whatever reason and cannot shake off thinking about it. You talk about it at work and rope friends into watching it or reading it, just so that you’ve got someone to share the drama with. Multiply that feeling that by 50, and you get a sense of what it’s like to take part in The Lucky Ones: a month-long live theatre experience that places you at the centre of the plot. You become the hero of your own story.

Pitched as theatre for the Netflix generation, the production turns the idea of theatre on its head. The city of Leeds is the setting, and you are not the audience: you are a part of the action and the only person being watched is you.

Before you know it, you find yourself playing the lead through an espionage-themed series of events: participants allow ‘Capital Experience’, a company within the roleplay that has a dystopian, Orewellian, 1984 feel to it, to manage your happiness. They contact you via text, email and mail. They arrange to meet you for clandestine parcel swaps whilst surreptitiously taking photographs of you. The images are pinned to a notice board in a city centre flat that you’re ordered to ransack for clues about a wayward ‘Capital’ employee. And all this is prefaced with the ominous phrase: “Your happiness is our primary concern”. Very creepy. But also, very thrilling.

After two and a half weeks of slowly unravelling the plot, you become quite accustomed to decoding smuggled messages. It’s normal to have a loaded telephone conversation with a stranger, on a Wednesday night in your dressing-gown, to locate a dangerous woman. You don’t think twice about dragging your bemused mate to the Everyman Cinema to deliver a password to an equally bemused member of staff who hands you a USB and wishes you luck. Eventually, if you aren’t frequently told by some unknown that ‘your happiness is their primary concern’, you feel a bit adrift.

This one-off experience is unlike anything I have taken part in before. The focus to detail is what makes the whole production so electrifying and gripping for each participant; Riptide, the immersive theatre company, go to great lengths to personalise your involvement. They use the contact details you provide on your application form to gather specifics about you, enabling them to tailor gifts and action to everyone. Perhaps the only criticism of the experience is the fact that after four weeks, you cannot help but lose some of the energy you had for the it at the beginning and what is initially arresting, almost becomes every day.

Nevertheless, The Lucky Ones was an unforgettable experience. It demanded bravery and imagination from its participants and has transformed the way I view theatre. I urge you to keep your eyes peeled for Riptide’s next venture; it won’t disappoint.

Sign up here for the summer experience of The Lucky Ones.

Filed under: Theatre & Dance

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