Review: The Temporal Society (CtrlAltRepeat)

This latest livestream from CtrlAltRepeat is a tale based on time-travel, with audience interaction. You are invited to just bring yourselves and a newspaper sent in your invitation, because an intriguing game is afoot.

We are in the company of scientist Arabella Bellefonte and engineer Martha Scott, in 1894, who have found themselves with us, in 2021. Played by Rebekah Finch and Rachel Waring, the two women prove to be a fine comedy pairing as they find their travels do not go as smoothly as they originally planned.

Audience members are invited to join one of two breakout rooms: conversationalists and problem-solvers. I chose to join Martha in searching through the webpages and online library of the “Beautiful Oddity” website.

Here, we find clues about, first, a missing member of the audience who gets sent to the wrong place and time, and then through a number of hints, dead ends (one real historical figure appears important, then forgotten), and chats with historical figures.

It is pure escapism with a hint of surrealism – an egg becomes not only a required prop, but also an important character, for reasons which I couldn’t quite grasp – and both leading ladies are excellent as the scientific pioneers who still get excited because women can now wear trousers, with pockets, and are no longer constrained by corsetry.

Mixing live action with pre-recorded sequences, the show flows very well, and although I suspect each show will be very different depending on the willingness of the audience to join in (there will always be one or two who are keen to jump in, and there is no requirement to participate if you’d rather not), this moved quickly and amusingly through a running time of 1 hr 20 minutes.

Screencaps from The Temporal Society

This is my second show by the team at Ctrl Alt Repeat, following the high-tech siege thriller Viper Squad. I felt this one had much in common with some of the historical shows put together by Creation Theatre (also livestreamed over Zoom), but I do like the effort both companies have put into making audiences feel they are part of shaping the show they are watching.

Lockdown certainly shaped some of the show: 2021 was described as a place where you have to wash your hands a lot, and where we get excited about a haircut.

Seeing other audience members in their own spaces is becoming a common feature of live digital shows: personally I hide them and flick my camera on and off when it seems appropriate!

Time travel is something many of us probably wish we were able to do, not simply to alter the course of large historical events, but also to go back to small moments which are important to us.

The Temporal Society is another enjoyable piece from this team (directed by Sid Phoenix and David Alywn), which gets a gold star for making Victorian women the main focus.

You can travel with them on Sundays until 16 May: book your passage here, (tickets start from £20 for one person), grab your spoon, and open your mind.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review The Temporal Society.