Now that the cinemas and theatres are at last reopening their doors and dusting down the cobwebs post-lockdown, the idea of sitting at a laptop at home watching a performance done entirely on little video squares within a fiddly app doesn’t seem as enticing as it once did. But those rushing out to experience live theatre again would be best carving out some screen time in their schedules so they can experience Siren – an innovative, imaginative piece of storytelling that delivers the kind of intimate, immersive experience live theatre just can’t deliver.
Straight to the point, Siren is easily one of the best interactive Zoom productions we’ve sat through (and we’ve sat through some good ones over the past few months, believe us!). The brainchild of co-writers Grace Davis and James Dillon (the latter of which also stars as the main protagonist Jacob), Siren puts the audience right at the heart of a routine space mission to investigate a research vessel that has suddenly ceased contact. The result is an engrossing sci-fi horror story that ekes out every morsel of tension possible within its 90 minute runtime to full effect.
Said-tension comes about slowly but surely through the unfolding story, which is tailored to ensure the audience are at the heart of the adventure onscreen. Upon joining the Zoom call, audience members are evaluated through a series of hypotheticals and assigned appropriate Mission Control duties on the ground, each of which come with specific roles for the individual to undertake within the narrative. Together, you guide pilot Jacob through the depths of the abandoned vessel, with both you and him ably assisted by his trusted artificial intelligence companion E.A.R.L (voiced by Carl Dolamore). Both lead performers are excellent throughout and highly adept at improvisation and adaption, especially when the aforementioned tension ramps up and the audience are forced to take more control of the narrative, thereby determining how it ultimately concludes.
It’s this that truly is Siren‘s ace in the hole, with multiple alternate endings possible, all driven by decisions the audience make in the heat of the moment. Even with this flexibility, the end result is an intricate little horror story whichever way it goes, cherry picking from the best sci-fi horrors franchises like Dead Space and Alien to deliver plenty of incident and a few genuine jump-inducing scares to boot. In its most tense and thrilling moments, the whole affair has the feel of playing a particularly engrossing video game, right down to the inventive puzzles and challenges!
Production values also play an invaluable part in making the whole event work. The sci-fi trappings lend themselves well to Zoom platform and the production looks incredibly polished, with excellent attention to detail on display throughout. The use of green-screen backgrounds, electronic music, graphics and pre-recorded footage all lend the show an immersive sci-fi aesthetic, whilst the incredibly detailed and layered sound design plays a vital role in upping the ante and delivering some truly disturbing moments of aural horror throughout. Headphones are definitely recommended!
Theatres and cinemas deserve a lot of love right now, but so does Siren, which delivers a perfect evening for fans of immersive theatre, horror and science fiction. Utilising the limiting Zoom format and taking advantage of the possibilities said-format offers to full dramatic effect, the end result is a breathtaking, engrossing and perfectly-paced horror adventure loaded with genuine tension and ingenious set pieces! A must-see show worth staying home for!