Immersive zombie production Variant 31 has closed in its current form with immediate effect, as producers admit “ongoing technical issues” made the production unviable.
A statement from the producers said they intend to relaunch the show in March next year.
The production opened in October, having originally been scheduled to launch in September. The opening was delayed because of the complexity of the production.
In a statement sent out to ticket holders explaining its decision to cancel the production, producers blamed “ongoing technical issues”.
It added that the decision was not taken lightly and was “incredibly frustrating”.
Producer Dalton Dale, from Big Dreamer Productions, said problems had been caused by technology used in the show not working on a “reliable basis”.
“We built all of the technology for the show in-house – four companies created various elements, but those systems just don’t talk to each other. We could not get it to work on a reliable basis,” he told The Stage, revealing that the production team recently spent £11,000 on new Wi-Fi infrastructure to try to address the problem.
“We will be ripping out all that technology and bringing it back together as a cohesive piece so it will work better in the future,” he said.
As well as addressing technological issues, the show is being rewritten, into an experience called Chapter 2, which will give audiences more guidance around the event than the original version.
“We relied on the audience coming in and committing themselves to creating their own adventure. I feel like audiences don’t want to come in and do the work themselves. So we are taking this moment to put in a new 37-page script with four alternate endings,” Dalton said, revealing that the new show will include signage to better guide participants.
When it initially opened, Variant 31 hired about 170 actors, but this eventually whittled down to just under 100, with the show using 52 performers at any one time.
Dale said these actors were able to “take any other job they wanted to go to” and had “flexibility” built into their contracts.
Immersive theatre has been in the spotlight in recent months, with union Equity warning that its members were “exposed to many forms of abuse”.
During one performance, audience members were evicted for abusing staff, which raised concerns about the safety of the production.