Taking place in ND2, an office block a short walk from the New Diorama, Gruff Theatre’s It Made Me Consider Me is set inside RALPH, a memory storage company that combines high sci-fi with humorously nervy bureaucracy.
Audience members become new employees at RALPH, receiving their induction (interaction is mandatory). Cartoonish, roller-blading CEO Ralph (Rhys Slade-Jones) has his new employees get to know him and one another in a fake quiz show designed to showcase his ego; chilling, pseudo-cuddly head of HR Sue (Cordelia Stevenson) enforces disciplinary role play and group therapy confessionals.
Employees faint, panic, appear to be taken over by alternate personalities, fight just out of earshot and freeze in terror when a woman in an incongruous red gown stalks through the cavernous central space. We surmise that a potent memory has manifested and gotten loose, affecting the entire company.
Gruff Theatre does impressive things on a limited budget. Six performers manage to create the impression of a bustling research outfit; the numerous corridors and office spaces the audience members are led through are sparsely decorated and use existing office paraphernalia, plus a few lights and stickers, for props – but still conjure a scientific hub of horrors.
Though there is slightly too much reliance on immersive ‘team-building’ exercises, It Made Me Consider Me is both entertaining and genuinely eerie, its unnerving qualities coming as much from the disturbingly familiar atmosphere of a bureaucratic, alienating, process-obsessed office environment as from the sci-fi storyline.