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Time Out London Immersive Horror Variant 31
© Andy Parsons

‘Variant 31’: is this immersive zombie apocalypse London’s scariest night out?

Zombies have taken over the West End – possibly you can stop them

By Andrzej Lukowski
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Question: what’s the most terrifying theatre show in London?
Ah, glad you asked, because there’s a new contender in town: ‘Variant 31’. It’s an immersive horror adventure which has just started previews in a 200-room, 35-floor, seven-building complex in central London.

Oh right, I’d have guessed ‘Cats’.
‘Cats’ closed years ag… oh, never mind. ‘Variant 31’ is ‘the world’s largest live gaming experience’ and basically it’s 90 minutes of you frantically attempting to gun down zombies before they infect you.

Is that technically even theatre?
Hey, theatre is a broad church. Just imagine Chekhov having to use his gun a lot earlier. Because he was being attacked by zombies. In any case, ‘Variant 31’ has the largest cast in London (150-plus!), and also a plot, kind of, which is to do with you, the hapless public, being invited into a sinister laboratory that was burned down years ago.

And it turns out it’s full of zombies?
And it turns out it’s full of zombies.

What theatre is this in again?
It’s in a huge dedicated complex called Space 18, which is basically a hodgepodge of formerly vacant buildings on New Oxford Street – see if you can spot much-missed nightclub The End! – which creators Big Dreamer Productions have taken out a five-year-lease on and fused into one completely vast terrorplex. It is exquisitely detailed and beautifully/ horrifyingly designed: Time Out was invited on a tour of about 10 percent of it,  during the daytime, and frankly it was pretty terrifying even when we knew our accompanying zombie was called Monica.

Hold on, are you saying it’s scary?
The producer of the show swore blind that there’s a monthly prize for the zombie that succeeds in generating the most ‘code browns’ amongst audience members.

So quite a lot like that ‘Cats’ film, then.
There’s only one way to find out…

‘Variant 31’ is at Space 18. Booking until Dec 31.

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