On Friday 30th October in preparation for Halloween, ExeTech welcomed us, a group of ‘investors’, to have a look around “The Facility”, where the realm of the supernatural ruled and nothing was as it seemed…
At just £6, a ticket allowed us to experience this theatrical walking-tour as well as attend a Campus Cinema screening of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. The grounds around The Student Health Centre and Reed Hall were transformed into subsections of The Facility; we were surrounded by werewolves and psychopaths, murderers and dodgy doctors who were often portrayed as equally as disturbing as the patients they were ‘treating’.
In the first ever Halloween event by ExeTech, we were firstly taken into the lab of Dr Lazarus (Josie Lovick), the main doctor of the institution, who’s character slowly became the focus of the performance. She explained to us the shift in the aim of the facility from attempting to cure supernatural beings to experimenting on them in order to discover the secrets of immortality. This disturbing concept was revealed to us along with the presence of Experiment 36 (Emily Giles) who could survive submerged under water for up to 20 hours. Other members of the 10 person cast included The Girl (Eloise Alikhani), the youngest member at the facility who chose a victim from the audience to play clapping games with only to become enraged by them seconds later, werewolf Luna (Anna Lovering) whose howl pierced the night at various intervals, and Patient 0 (Luke Render) who gave a chilling performance in his solitary, barbed wire cell.
Perhaps more chilling yet was the speech given by groundkeeper Dr Adam Crane (George Fincher), whom we saw, through the means of an intelligently created exposition video, had once been a scientist himself at the facility, only for his mind to have been taken over by dark thoughts and voices. Whilst another group of investors passed by Esmeralda’s (Pheobe Greenwold) tea party in the woods, a security breach by Patient 0 suddenly triggered the CEO of The Facility (Niamh Percy) and her assistant (Ben Spring) to return us swiftly back to the ‘safety’ of the laboratories.
The night provided genuine thrills due to the incredible performances of all those involved, and offered an interactive alternative to the usual Halloween ‘movie night in’. It was well planned, well executed and wonderfully enhanced by the special effects put in place by ExeTech, such as various light effects and smoke machines. The grande finale of the night was the highlight, and was previously hinted at through Patient 0’s threats to kill Dr Lazarus if he gets the chance. His chance came when he ‘escaped’, and as we were led by the ever-positive Grandma (Sky Cottis) away from the facility through the woods next to Reed Hall, we witnessed a scene in the distance in which Dr Lazarus became Patient 0’s latest victim…
Left with a pleasing feeling of shock, we were ushered to the M & D room for the screening of Sleepy Hollow. ExeTech managed to pull off what could have been seen as a challenging mission; getting the balance just right before authentic theatricality became Halloween cheesiness that’s better left for Unit 1. In light of the success of the event, we’re eagerly waiting to hear what ExeTech has next in store, and would encourage you to do the same.