Admit it – over the past year or so you’ve found yourself wishing that time travel existed, so you could either escape the pandemic (going backwards or forwards in time) or try to prevent it from even happening (probably best not to meddle in something as significant as that, tbh). Well now you’re in luck, as CtrlAltRepeat bring you The Temporal Society: a real-time lecture from 1894 on the subject of time travel! Join scientist Arabella Bellefonte and engineer Martha Scott as they unveil their brand new Chronocular machine and demonstrate its potential to tinker with events – just make sure you’re anchored to your own time, as you wouldn’t want to get lost in time…
But I probably don’t need to tell you that things don’t go quite as smoothly as Arabella and Martha hoped, sending everyone off in search of a missing member of the party. Whilst this is obviously not ideal for the two inventors (or, indeed, the person who has been lost), it does afford attendees the chance to have increasingly fraught but nonetheless fascinating conversations with a selection of major historical figures – what’s not to like? Fairly early in the investigation you are split into two separate teams: conversationalists and puzzle-solvers. As with previous CtrlAltRepeat productions, you’re not picked on too much anyway, but by choosing a group that best suits your personality (or just how you feel that night) you will definitely get the most out of your experience.
I chose to join Martha in searching through historical records and trying to figure out where our lost person may have found themselves; though I didn’t make any breakthroughs myself as I was a bit slow in finding specific webpages, I definitely felt like I was being proactive and at least trying to make a contribution! It was also fun to see the extent of the Beautiful Oddity website, which served as our main source of information for the investigation.
As we headed towards the conclusion, it did feel a bit like we were rushing through it; obviously a sense of urgency was necessary by that point (and it did all come to a satisfying end), but perhaps there would still be some time for a little bit more debriefing from Martha & Arabella between each of the final tasks. It should be noted, however, that I attended an early preview, so things may be altered slightly during the course of the run – plus you’re always going to have some differences between each individual performance depending on the make-up of the audience, for one thing. The pre-recorded sequences are all excellent and very well spaced out during the course of the production, balancing up the need for exposition & explanation with the interactive nature of the show.
Rebekah Finch is on sparkling form as Arabella, keen to share her knowledge with like-minded individuals but always wanting to know more: I couldn’t help but believe her when she said she wanted to dissect our brains to see how we made connections in the investigation so quickly. It feels as though Rachel Waring is absolutely in her element as Martha Scott, revelling in every discovery that she makes about history and the future – especially the news that books, maps, etc. can all be found in one simple place by 2021: the Internet! Valuable contributions from Ellen Fry, James Peters, Edward Cartwright, Rhiannon Skerritt, Olivia Caley, Will Thompson-Brant, Sid Phoenix & David Alwyn all round off the experience and expand the world that CtrlAltRepeat has managed to create.
My top tips for getting the most out of the show as possible would be to have the following items to hand: pen & paper, a spoon & an egg. The latter is first introduced to the conversationalists during their first foray into time travel, and I don’t think it ended up being explained properly to the rest of us (though I’d imagine its relative ubiquity has something to do with it) – it didn’t hinder any progress, it was just a bit of a head-scratcher. My final tip would be to keep watching until the end of the credits (don’t be that person who thinks the credits signals switch-off time), especially if you are a CtrlAltRepeat regular…
My verdict? Another superb bit of escapism from the minds of CtrlAltRepeat, taking you back in time and keeping you on your toes – Rebekah Finch & Rachel Waring are the double act we’ve all been waiting for!
The Temporal Society runs every Sunday from 4 April – 16 May 2021. Tickets are available from the official website. Viper Squad: Remastered is still running on Fridays until 16 April 2021 (tickets available from the official website).