If you turn left at Bond Street station at the moment, you will find yourself face to face with a fairly unremarkable looking building. Walk inside and you will be in UNIT HQ - the site for a new immersive experience based on Doctor Who.
While the show has been on our TV screens (on and off) since 1963, Time Fracture hasn't had as much luck. As if the pandemic closing everything didn't cause enough probems, the weather has been an enemy to Time Fracture, forcing it to close its doors for four months shortly after it first opened earlier this year. However, a once-over with a sonic screwdriver has meant the building is safe to open again.
I was invited along to review it, and as a Doctor Who fan I was very excited about checking it out. However, it is going to be tricky to write about as I really wouldn't want to spoil any of the surprises (That and we were sworn to secrecy by UNIT themselves) so bear with me while I try not to get myself deleted. The basic premise of Time Fracture is that the universe in in danger and you are the only hope to save it. It's safe to say it feels like a bit of a higher stake than a night at Mamma Mia!
Like Secret Cinema have been doing with various movies over the years, Doctor Who Time Fracture puts the audience (known as volunteers) in the heart of the action as we move in groups across space and time. The freedom of movement and scope for choice lends itself well to repeat visits with 17 different worlds to explore and 13 possible storylines, you're playing a bit of roulette when it comes to which room you end up in and who you come to meet. While there are fixed points throughout the story, other elements (particularly in the first half) are much more in flux. I couldn't help but wonder at one point who and what I might be missing but that's all part of the fun.
The experience features a cast of 43 live actors, constantly interacting with the volunteers and reacting to what is thrown at them. The fact each group will be different but they never break character is a testament to their skills as actors and how brilliant they are at improvisation. As I found myself separated from the group I began my journey with, I wondered if I'd actually done the impossible and ruined the experience for myself. I needn't have worried as a helpful Ood called Brian was on hand to guide me back to where I needed to be. Some of these actors also have the unenviable task of playing some iconic figures from real history as well as the history of Doctor Who, though the real Doctor is only present via screen.
The sets are pretty spectacular. Grand in scale and full of surprises, many iconic settings from across the series are there for you to explore with no expense spared. The scale of the whole affair was inspiring and gave us true escapism. Using the "Time fractures" to transport us from one set to another was a stroke of genius and meant you would walk through a wall travelling hundreds of years in the past to ending up on a different planet.
There are moments where the pace drops significantly - especially in the second half (after a brilliant way of giving us an interval that even featured some musical numbers). After a truly terrifying moment, we ended up in a room for the final part of Time Fracture. As we were invited to watch the action, this felt closer to conventional sit down theatre than anything we had seen before though this came very close to turning into pantomime. While this was admirable in itself, it struggled to match the frenetic pace the first half had delivered and left me longing to jump through a wall into another dimension. A slightly anticlimactic ending though admittedly that didn't take away from the experience overall.
There is plenty to keep fans of Doctor Who entertained throughout the whole experience, with clever references to iconic moments from the show dotted around the building both visually and (Spoilers!) through lines said by the actors. There are appearances from classic villains though blink and you might miss one in particular. There is still plenty to enjoy for those who aren't fans of the TV show though it is definitely rewarding to have some prior knowledge. It is very family friendly though there are moments where adults and children alike mighr want to hide behind the sofa.
Overall, this is a brilliant experience which kept me entertained and impressed all the way throughout. There is something to be said about feeling included and part of the action ater so much time spent isolated, and so this ace production has come at the right time. See it before it disappears completely!
Doctor Who Time Fracture is available to book from https://www.immersivedoctorwho.com/event/doctor-who-time-fracture