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Cast and crew ‘owed thousands’ as immersive theatre company DifferencEngine goes bust

The promotional image for Differencengine's show The Hollow Hotel, which has been cancelled The promotional image for Differencengine's show The Hollow Hotel, which has been cancelled
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Immersive theatre company DifferencEngine has gone into liquidation, owing tens of thousands of pounds to cast and crew.

The company, which is behind shows such as Heist, had just opened its latest production, The Hollow Hotel, when it announced the company’s closure to cast members. The Hollow Hotel also closed with immediate effect, just before press performances were due to begin on May 15 and having run for just a few weeks in previews. The move left ticket buyers out of pocket.

On its website, the theatre company said The Hollow Hotel had been its most “ambitious production yet” but admitted that it had faced “an extraordinary array of problems and adverse circumstances”.

“We have done everything we can to overcome these difficulties and prevent this from occurring, but have been unable to find any solutions,” it added.

Among those understood to be left owed money is PR firm Mobius, which has outstanding debts of about £2,000, while the show’s creative team is understood to collectively be owed more than £10,000.

Ticket buyers have also been left with money owed. Theatregoer Ant Ryan told The Stage he had spent £200 for six tickets only to be told on the day of the show that the company and production had collapsed.

“Four hours before our show, I received an email cancelling our performance. Some of my friends had traveled down to London especially for this so it was a massive disappointment, especially the fact they didn’t even attempt to phone me to explain what was going on,” he said.

“As it [the show] was a horror experience, we were expecting to be kept in the dark, however we didn’t expect it to be like this. Since the email, we’ve still had nobody contact us to offer a refund or anything,” he added.

A performer involved in the show, who did not want to be named, described it as “heartbreaking” that the company had collapsed.

“It was clear from the get go that they believed in the project and the company and this has really ripped them apart. It’s devastating,” she said.

She added that the show had not been selling, and that the show had been evolving during previews.

“People were feeling it was either an ‘escape room’ experience or immersive theatre, but what it was trying to do was create both. It wasn’t quite there and we knew that, but the first online reviews that went up kind of screwed us,” she added.

Stephen Evans of Antony Batty and Company LLP has been instructed by the directors of DifferencEngine Ltd to place the company into liquidation.

A spokesman said the process was currently underway, but that it was “waiting for further information about the company’s financial position and other items of paperwork”.

“Creditors will be notified shortly of the company’s position and the steps required to place the company into liquidation,” he added.

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