We Revolted At The Tower Of London

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We Revolted At The Tower Of London
Surveying the plans for the Tower we're about to sneak into.

We're slinking through the moat of the Tower of London under the cover of darkness. Up above, two of our number are distracting the guards, as we desperately cling to the shadows unnoticed. We're wearing a high-vis vest and a hard hat, posing as a construction worker, but we're not here for maintenance work. We're about to bring down the Crown.

Well not THE Crown, but that's the name of the government in the near future of this immersive theatre project, The People's Revolt. The Crown is an authoritarian evil state that's raised taxes, under whose control unemployment has soared and — most criminally of all — has ignored the will of its subjects. The scenario is inspired by Wat Tyler's Peasant Revolt of 1381, dragging the causes of that revolution into our time.

Before we even arrive at our clandestine meeting point, we're primed for the revolutionary cause. We're given access to a secret online forum, where we communicate with other rebels through codenames. It's also a place to ground ourselves in the world we're about to step into, reading about other revolutionary attacks committed in the run-up to this, the big one. It's also a poignant mirror to today's world — communicating through the dark web is how the illegal side of modern society functions.

But onto the the castle. We're met near Tower Hill station by our guide. He's tense and sweating, on the brink of an epic event. He tells us our goal for the evening: we're going to open the castle gates and let 80,000 people storm it.

We fly down streets and alleys, skirting the castle. At times we try and blend in with the masses of people going about their usual business in Tower Hill at 6pm on a Friday. Others, we pretend to be a tour group. At one point, our guide has us walk one by one along a tunnel for fear we'll be noticed by a security guard. After closely checking we haven't been followed, we make it inside.

We won't give away any more specifics as to what happens, because half the fun of The People's Revolt is the surprise.

Viva la revolucion

Other than the fact that you're in the Tower of London, the experience is admittedly rather low-budget. This isn't a criticism: the creators differencEngine make the most of their surroundings with a guerrilla, bare-bones take on immersive theatre.

Our highlight is finding the belongings of a homeless man (your contact that helps you break into the castle). Next to his bed is a selection of reading on revolutions from Britain's past. No one draws your attention to this, we just caught it out of the corner of our eye and it helped us buy into the experience further.

Revolutionary reading

Your actions have an effect on the story's outcome. Act passively and you'll miss out. Herein, though, lies a problem: an aim of this experience is to make you question whether you're really comfortable with committing serious acts and potentially harming people in the process. But because it's just an act, you may not feel any moral conundrum at all. Toying with lives in video games can be fun, because you know they're not real people. The same sort of applies here.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of The People's Revolt depends on how much you buy into the fantasy.

The People's Revolt runs on select dates until 25 March 2017. Tickets cost £25.50 or £23 for concessions. Get more details and tickets here.

Last Updated 07 March 2017