FringeReview UK 2015
An individual, multi-sensory virtual reality experience, combining cutting-edge Unity3D and Oculus Rift VR technologies with live performance.
You awake to find yourself sitting at a table across from a stranger, your friends are gone and you are faced with the question, “how do you build a reality which doesn’t collapse within three days?”
Based on the true story of one of history’s strangest mass disappearances, and continuing on from where 2014’s Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere left off, The Cube is Circa69’s multi-sensory virtual reality experience which puts you in the role of one of the disappeared.
It is already a different and exciting experience as you enter through the side door of the Old Market, and are led down a winding staircase into the damp cellars of the theatre, where a man in black bids you to sit down at a table.
The Cube, a show from Brighton based Circa69, makes use of Oculus Rift technology to tell an eerie story from the 1950s, where a group of teenagers disappeared and were never found, save for an unexplained black wooden cube in the desert, and cryptic letters left behind by the youngsters.
It is definitely a fun experience to use the Oculus Rift goggles, and they work very well to transport you fully into another world, where you find yourself flying above the globe, or plunging down a lift shaft, immersing you completely in a strange new world.
The story of the disappearance is well set up, it is easy to believe that this is something real that went on, and indeed, Googling it after the show produces a couple of websites with further information about the piece. They seem very authentic and I am certain they were set up by the company as ‘extras’ to the show, as I can imagine that many people take to the internet to find out whether there is any truth in this bizarre tale.
The effects used in the goggles are generally good; it is exhilarating when you find yourself rushing upwards above the desert, and being able to look all around you to take in your surroundings. However, the company also make use of some real props, to try and further the Virtual Reality experience. Whilst in some ways this is a fun addition to the show, often you find yourself grabbing in slightly the wrong place. It must be nearly impossible to position the objects correctly, relative to your goggle vision, but because this is the case, the trick almost has the opposite effect to that intended, by taking you out of your surroundings as you grasp for a bottle or a letter that is being held out a little too far to the right.
The Cube is an excellent premise and very well delivered, and is a very fun15- minute experience. I think that the quality of the graphics, and the interaction between physical and virtual reality could be improved and played with much more, and there will no doubt be further scope for this as technologies improve.