Image Credit: John Salway
Image Description: Tides‘ Editor and TLV reviewer take on Time Fracture
By John Salway
Name: Time Fracture
Type: Live Immersive Theatre Experience
Price: From £49.95
Current TLV investment: £375.35
Well, this is it! We’ve finally arrived at the last piece of Time Lord Victorious that I’ll be reviewing. It’s a momentous occasion, and thankfully we’ve got a sufficiently exciting event to end on! Originally due to debut last year, before the global coronavirus pandemic forced a necessary delay, Time Fracture is a live immersive theatre experience in London where the guests are themselves participants in a time-and-space-spanning tale that’s brimming with talent, love and references-a-go-go. Spoilers: I think it’s amazing!
The adventure begins as you are welcomed to a secret UNIT black site by a somewhat familiar face, before being briefed by a recording of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (which again seems to be the moniker she’s going by at the moment!). This covers all the basic plot info you’re going to need, repeated (thankfully not ad verbum) from the online clips previously released, for those normal folks who don’t obsessively document trailers.
You’re then moved into the first part of the adventure, a large UNIT lab with an intriguing central power device, where the scientists are trying to combat the ever-growing time fracture. You’ll spend about 20-30 mins here being introduced to various UNIT members, ducking when systems overload, being relentlessly briefed and re-briefed, and asked to do some minor tasks such as inventing cover stories for various international incidents. It seems to be intended as a sort of ice-breaker, getting the audience used to interacting with the cast and encouraging them to play along with events, at which it succeeds. However, on my visit this was also very noisy, with actors shouting on top of each other, and a little bit confusing as we were passed from scientist to scientist and back again for no obvious reason. Ultimately, it all felt a little bit like padding, and could probably do with having some time shaved off – let’s face it, we all just want to go into the time fracture!
It’s at this point that I’m going to have to stop my direct account of events, because what lies beyond is certainly worth keeping secret. But trust me when I say that after the titular fracture does open, and you’re allowed to step through into the many realms beyond, that the show really begins to impress. Guided by mysterious travellers, you’ll be led in small parties to regions of the past and future, meet famous (and very surprising!) faces, face scary monsters, and pick up aspects of the ongoing plot. It’s all surprisingly free-flowing and your movement between scenes feels very organic. This is definitely the highlight of the experience. It’s something unique and magical, and I encourage all visitors to make the most of it, especially making sure to properly engage with the wonderful actors around you!
Soon, you’ll be taken through another fracture to the best theatre intermission I’ve ever seen, because frankly, it’s not really an intermission at all! Again, I must resist the urge to present spoilers, but while this half-an-hour offers some time to recharge and relax with some delightful beverages, the show never really stops.
The final section of the show sees guests taken in small groups for a scary encounter, before re-joining the main audience for a more static finale as the plot elements you may have encountered earlier finally come together. These final scenes may be a bit too cheesy for some, but by this point the show has built up such a feeling of goodwill that I think you’re more likely just to roll with it and enjoy the surprisingly fannish events that transpire. Finally, you’ll return to the UNIT base where the TARDIS has now materialised, perfect for a photo opportunity.
Overall, while not everything is perfect, the bulk of Time Fracture is an absolute smash and something that I’m now thinking of making a second visit to. There’s still a lot of times and spaces that I didn’t get to see on my trip, and while the show is cleverly constructed so that you don’t necessarily feel like you’re missing anything if you don’t experience certain scenes, I would love to see more. And I want lots of you to see it too, so we can share all of our unique experiences!
I would like to take a moment to talk about safety during this extraordinary time. The team at Time Fracture have clearly taken steps to try and maintain social distancing, with black spots on the floor in more static scenes to keep guests apart, and face masks being mandatory while inside the building (refreshments during the intermission and quick TARDIS snaps excepted). But when guests are placed directly in the middle of the action, either running from monsters or beckoned closer by mysterious figures, the distance becomes impossible to maintain, and you may frequently find yourself closer to other parties than you would like. Could this be improved? Possibly, but I’m not sure how it could be achieved without removing much of the verisimilitude of the event, and while the space is well utilised, this is not a massive venue. I would strongly advise any visitors to bring their own sanitising gel with them, and if you’re especially concerned by any potential risks, it may be prudent to wait until you have been vaccinated.
Now, it’s my final time to ask the age-old question: how does this adventure tie into Time Lord Victorious? The answer is very sparingly, and not very well. We have heard reference to the time fracture in some other stories, particularly the short story ‘What the TARDIS thought of Time Lord Victorious”, but this seems to attribute the source of the fracture to the Doctor returning Adelaide Brooke to Earth, which is a completely different explanation to the one given here, so much so that I’m not sure the two can be easily reconciled. We also get an in-person appearance from a fan favourite character, which is a treat, though understandably they’re not a major part of the narrative. Ultimately, it’s a standalone show, which is what it should be.
Time Fracture will now be running three shows a night, six days a week, with three extra matinee shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays, until next April, so there’s tonnes of time to get yourselves down there and experience a truly unique and magical bit of Doctor Who – and probably with time left to go see it again!