The Boys Get The V, a free immersive experience
This is how I felt when a group of us went to Vought’s London HQ to smuggle out some temp V. The BOYS get the V – an immersive experience that ‘might just literally blow your head off’ – was live in London between June 2nd and 5th.
We watched The Boys Season 1 and 2 catch-ups, and as much of Season 3 as there was time for before leaving so that we were better prepared. To give you an idea of who we are; one of us hadn’t started watching The Boys Season 1, I like catching the catch-up presenter’ misconceptions and have few enough friends who enjoy this stuff so would have watched anything and our host (let’s call him U) – determined to win – took the preparation seriously (except when off out for a drag). We shared pizza while doing this (I believe there’s little that can’t be improved upon by sharing pizza) and like attracts like, so the others’ motivations probably fell into a similar spectrum of views.
World-weariness/ justifiable cynicism/cost-based pragmatism (delete as preferred) vied with the expectations created by the preamble. It included instructions such as ‘wear clothes that you don’t value’, ‘be prepared to run’, ‘no heels/stilettos’ and ‘you won’t all make it to the end’ left us speculating as to what might be involved.
As we approached the building it was hard to miss the clear Vought branding on windows and doors. Queue stewards, dressed in white chemical-protection-coveralls told us that – despite anything we might hear on the inside – photography and videography were welcome, then checked our disclaimers.
Puns flew as the putative Vought personnel pushed us through the proceedings with a production-line linearity. Rather than being left to puzzle the four main clues, we were told what to do and moved swiftly on. That’s a shame, partly because of the lost opportunities for further interaction, and partly because three out of four times the actors didn’t clock that U had worked out the clue, found the prop and moved on.
The level of detail throughout was amazing. I particularly liked the blood-spatters, headless corpses and merch-development room but found it frustrating that randomly ringing telephones could not be answered. Wonderful detail included a ‘real-life’ photograph of Boris Johnson with Vought execs, cans of Supe-promoted drinks, health summaries of each experimental subject and promo video titles (bonelander being the only one I can mention for age-related reasons). Less good, the intravenous drip-props weren’t the same colour as in the series or the vials we found and liberated.
We were told we had behaved illegally and shown the proof – our group on CCTV as we ‘stole’ the temp-V, then hustled out of the building, ostensibly to escape. That was it. It has taken me over a day to understand that my antipathy towards the event was primarily due to the anticlimax of finding myself on the street unexpectedly. It would have taken very little to turn that negative ‘escape’ feeling into a good ‘end’.
Time passed quickly, it was excellent value for money (free) and the extensions of the series universe were plausible and amusing even though the ending was massively anticlimactic. The build-up (https://get-the-v.com) and Butcher’s preparatory message (https://get-the-v.com/message-from-butcher) were also amazing. The group’s consensus was that it was good for a free experience. However, we were all hit hard by the absence of ending. I would have liked to have done it again.
It was also a lost opportunity. Scheduling for the Jubilee Weekend meant it competed with free local fun (including food and booze) and the opportunity to leave the country for a week by taking just 3 days off work. Finally, whilst indisputably immersive, the experience could have been far more interactive.
I can name at least 20 people – emerging and established performance creatives- who could have done the interactive side better. Since the set has been established, and I would be happy to pay to get a ‘proper’ get-the-temp-V-puzzle-solving experience, others would too. That means it could be made to actually pay.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the production management won a pitch based on the story of framing us, then ran out of money creating the set.
Hang on, I’m in the right sectors. I do.
Watch this space.