Immersive Zoom murder mystery done right.
LONDON – While universally recognised and generally enjoyed as an icon of the mystery genre, one of the biggest challenge of adapting Sherlock Holmes is that it’s been done to death, be it onscreen or on the page. Theatre group Les Enfants Terrible however, are offering up a brand new version for these COVID times – with Sherlock Holmes – An Online Adventure.
Performed over Zoom, audiences play the role of budding detectives as they aid the great Sherlock himself in resolving The Case of the Hung Parliament. When multiple politicians are found dead, hanging by a rope in their offices, it’s only a matter of time before the Prime Minister looks to be next in line. Greeted by Dr Watson (Hemi Yeroham for our session, adaptable when it comes to improv and always maintaining character) and making our formal introductions, we’re quickly given a series of tasks to perform, gathering up clues in virtual rooms, ‘interviewing’ the suspects, and hacking into police computers to get to the bottom of it all.
What makes this experience so fascinating is how few live elements actually needs to be orchestrated by the team. More akin to a game than theatre, most of the work is actually done by the audience, as we’re taken from one scenario to another, and reliant on our wits to crack the clues and work together as a team. Often, audience members will find themselves split up and pursuing their own targets, and require clear lines of communication to corroborate the information before arriving at speculations and conclusions. Just having that interpersonal, interactive element is already a huge plus that allows us to immerse ourselves and emotionally invest in the mystery.
Each individual scenario is also done well, showing that production quality matters even online. Easter eggs are scattered throughout the intricate rooms, whether as a surprise soundbite, or as a cheeky reference to other Sir Arthur Conan Doyle works. The video elements are well-shot, with the cast of five potential culprits (played by Amy Adele, James Marlowe, Miranda Heath, Michele Moran and Yasmin Keita) each compelling in their own right, bringing life to their equally suspicious personalities. And the deeper you get into the mystery, the more your mind is likely to race with the possibilities, with how clever it all seems – visual art references and literary allusions will have you wondering just how on theme the culprit intended to be, along with detailed dockets you’ll wrack your mind over, wondering how much of the information is relevant, or just a red herring.
As far as interactive Zoom theatre goes, it’s often a huge challenge to engage audiences from behind a screen. But Les Enfants Terrible have somehow managed to do that with an intriguing whodunnit, gameplay that keeps surprising you at every step, and a genuinely satisfying reveal that will have you going ‘oh!’, even if you picked the wrong culprit (primarily thanks to the performance Richard Holt delivers as Sherlock himself). Sherlock Holmes: An Online Adventure is worth diving back into the world of Zoom performances for, and left us satisfied with both the journey and the final solution.
Sherlock Holmes: An Online Adventure runs online. Tickets available here