Writer: Hannah Wood
Creative Director: Dani Parr
Despite its sleek publicity images, Lost Origin is definitely a show for the kids. They will certainly enjoy the journey through an East London warehouse searching for clues. The hour-long experience also features some spectacular VR. Strangely however, kids are not allowed. You have to be over 14 to see this show.
Groups of up to six are commissioned to break into Origin’s headquarters to find evidence that a mysterious man is selling objects such as powdered rhinoceros horn and Covid vaccines on the dark web. Older players may raise a smile to see that Brad Pitt’s DNA is also a sought-after item in the unrestricted black market. Agents Marsha and Logan (on this night, an eager Daisy Badger and a delightfully stern Yinka Awoni) provide instructions and offer advice in a swanky control room that fits nicely into the shipping container that’s positioned outside the building about to be raided.
Once in the headquarters, Lost Origin starts like an escape room, although seasoned players may find the few challenges relatively easy, and, if they aren’t familiar with the concept, an agent is always on hand to give out clues. But it soon becomes clear that each room and mini task is leading up the VR experience.
The journey there is meticulously designed by Alice Helps and Julie Landau, especially the corridors that connect the large spaces, and there is plenty to look at in the stock room where there are a few jokes for the adults too. But, overall, the story is a little thin and with the unmistakable voice of Jodie Whittaker coming through the speakers the result is too earnest, very much like the current Dr Who series.
It would be a shame to ruin the surprise about what is seen through the Magic Leap headsets, but it’s impressive and perhaps is a sign of what theatre could be in the future. Another show that uses VR technology is War of The Worlds, currently playing in the city of London and there alien invasion has never looked so real. Lost Origin’s VR looks as good, but is less immersive despite its 360° design.
Produced with the help of Factory 42, the Almeida Theatre, and Sky, Lost Origin assuredly has the right credentials, but may need an extra element of danger or urgency to be really successful. And the tone of the piece seems directed to children, which would be fine if they were allowed in, but veers to patronising without them. It’s an odd decision to bar the target audience.
Runs from 21 November until 4 December 2021