Lockdown review: The Hive Online

Forming part of the Form(at) Festival, showcasing work from the Advanced Theatre Practice course at the Royal Central School of Drama, Error 404’s show has both live and online components.

While the masked audience at Camden People’s Theatre are presumably having one kind of “orientation” in their new jobs at The Hive, online we are given access to a home office programme we can explore.

Using Zoom, pre-recorded video, clickable objects, and a message board – which weirdly switched to Spanish – each audience member takes on the persona of a newly hired research developer. There are mysterious doors, locked safes, and dead ends.

Error 404 logo

Running at 75 minutes when I watched, The Hive Online is quirky, and is something of a detective trail cum horror movie. There are a few glitches: I found myself back in reception (the show’s equivalent of Monopoly “back to start, do not pass go”) more than once.

Otherwise, you are free to explore the floors and rooms. A clue or two fill in the blanks, but some items are maddeningly enticing but lead nowhere. I entered two out of three Zoom calls – one to join in a design conundrum in which, brave little Zoomer that I am, I shared an appalling sketch concept which got some laughs from our live colleagues at CPT.

The Hive Online didn’t really work that well for me as I prefer online games to have a definite route and purpose. Click here, go here. Like the mental puzzles in The Crystal Maze. It was clear early on by the speech of one Head of Department in the opening Zoom that all was not well in Hiveland.

Error 404 in rehearsal. Source: Twitter
Error 404 in rehearsal. Source: Twitter

It was also curious that from the group of people in the opening Zoom only two reappeared in further calls, and others in the chat seemed, well, off. Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps it’s me. I liked the tech, but didn’t really engage with the task.

However, this group of Central students have crafted something with the sense of eroded trust and cautious camaraderie in mind which fits with our ongoing pandemic shutdown. Were the live audience watching us? Who was really out there?

Interesting to compare with Chronic Insanity’s Myles Away which also started by welcoming a new employee online: both ended with a final decision, but they went in very different directions while playing with the idea of tribal mentality and morality.

Logo for Form(at) Festival

The Hive Online ran as part of the Form(at) Festival at Camden People’s Theatre and online. Error 404 are Amy Mawer, Juliet Mann, Qiyue Luo, and Danny Romeo: an emerging company in virtual immersive theatre.