With access to live performances thwarted by the current COVID-19 restrictions, Sherlock Holmes, An Online Adventure: The Case of the Hung Parliament opens a new door to theatrical experience, offering a dramatic renewal to theatre amidst the monotony of lockdown. 

Whilst both live performances and escape rooms have been well established online since the onset of lockdown in March 2020, the Case of the Hung Parliament brings a synthesis of the two. Set on Zoom to small audiences of six, the Case of the Hung Parliament is able to offer both the immersiveness and excitement of an escape room and the atmosphere of a performance. 

Thrown into the Sherlock Holmes-inspired mystery, audiences get the chance to interact with actors in inventive ways that reflect the intrigue of theatre. Although not set in the winding alleys of London, the Zoom call doesn’t lose any of its tone as a mystery. Instead, it offers new layers of comedy due to the ever-present irony of a Victorian mystery online.

In this production, audiences must become Sherlock Holmeses themselves, as Dr. Watson is required to solve a case alone, as he professionally interacts with audiences and immerses them in the enthralling plotline. The plot itself is scattered with many clues, each with their own individual intrigue and significance. Although this can, at times, become bewildering, this adds to the mystery and forces audiences to interact with others in a collective effort to solve the mystery. This network of clues is delivered at a heart racing pace that enables audiences to be “completely immersed in solving the case”, as one audience member, Sara Micheletti commented. 

Like many other production companies, Les Enfants Terribles (the creators of the Case of the Hung Parliament) has been forced to move interactive performances online. This production not only brings “some connectivity to live entertainment that has sorely been missing over the last year”, as Oliver Lansley (the writer) had hoped. But it also offers a renewal to traditional “theatrical entertainment”. 

This renewal makes up part of the current theatrical movement, that aims to reshine centuries-old stories in the light of a contemporary, information age. This immersive experience, however, takes this movement a step further, by expertly crafting a performance that is set in Victorian London, shown on Zoom and operates beyond the monotony of lockdown.

The Case of the Hung Parliament will far outlive its closing date on the 10th of March and may continue to influence theatrical performances after the pandemic and into the dawning of the new era for theatre.