Zombie-vampire hybrids aren’t something you think of too often, but this year The Virtual Stage has presented an immersive 60-90 minute adventure on Granville Island in Vancouver.
The audience’s adventure begins with an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Special Forces operative Frank Johnson. He was hunting down former government geneticist Mattias Van Cleave, when he fell off the radar. Van Cleave, a suspected vampiric psychopath, is believed to be responsible for a string of recent murders, and the sudden appearance of zombie-vampire mutants across the Lower Mainland. The audience must determine Johnson’s whereabouts and ensure his mission to stop Van Cleave is completed at any cost.
Audiences are given access to an app that connects to location-specific beacons with clues, directions and narrative content. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually use the system that much. I’m not sure if our ‘leader’ was an actor or had already been to a previous performance (because he clearly knew where to go and the main questions to ask), but he rushed us through. We didn’t have to navigate to new locations or figure anything out… we were just led over.
I can’t help but feel disappointed about that. I signed up for the choose-your-own-adventure type of play, working through the clues and figuring out how to kill Van Cleave. But you’re with a group of people all figuring out what the creators wanted you to do, and not knowing everyone else. If we had all met up half an hour earlier for a drink, or if I had gone with a big group, this would have been one of the best experiences. It just felt a bit too guided.
As for the story and scare-factor, it was a lot of fun. People are able to get involved in the story easily, but hang out in the back if that isn’t their thing. Zombies roamed around Granville Island, popping out and scaring us frequently, and it was fun to explore the island both on foot and in a boat. I forgot how much I loved that area, and leaving the final location I was full of smiles -the play was a lot of fun.
The Zombie Syndrome: Dead In The Water has nightly shows every half hour until Halloween on Granville Island. The fifth annual instalment in the company’s smash-hit series will challenge audiences to travel by land and sea as they race to confront a monstrous hybrid of zombies and vampires.