Former Doctor Who joins East Sussex online interactive fantasy

Tom BakerTom Baker
Tom Baker
Sci-fi legend and former Doctor Who Tom Baker has joined a Rye online interactive fantasy production.

The Storymaster’s Tales Interactive Theatre has been closed to the public since March 2020, but now the former Doctor Who actor and sci-fi cult legend Tom Baker has stepped in to help the owner Oliver McNeil take it into the future and worldwide.

The theatre is a popular attraction for families and visitors to the area in normal times.

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But Oliver has been challenged this past year to keep his interactive theatre alive.

Using its set, props and costumes, he has been taking inspiration from Doctor Who and the cult UK children's television 90s show Knightmare to craft an “incredibly high end immersive online theatrical adventure show”, featuring props and creatures designed and made by Mark Cordory, who worked on both the original shows.

As Olivier explains: “Tom Baker was impressed with the creativeness of the show and the way it also connected those who are currently feeling the isolation of this pandemic. He was happy to join the cast of colourful folklore characters.

“Unlike anything else the online theatre adventure game has puzzles, moral dilemmas, mysteries and plenty of plot twists to keep players coming back again and again. There is a maximum of just twelve players on any of the one to two-hour quests so players have developed their own acting and role-playing skills.

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“Set in an alternate 18th century English town, the interactive stories revolve around a dark Brothers Grimm folklore fantasy world, full of evil witches, trolls, stone circles, old wizards towers and twisted fairy creatures, based on the Family card-gamebooks The Storymaster's Tales.”

Having trained in theatre design and production, Oliver (also a games designer and member of the Magic Circle) currently plays all the roles in the adventures, including those of writer, camera operator and producer.

Since launching in November it has an ever-growing group of Zoom-connected players from the UK, USA and the EU.

“The players are made up of an incredibly diverse group of people, genders and ages ranging from 20s-60s. They have just started holding family sessions where parents play alongside their children. Those that have done this have found that it's a huge confidence boost for them.

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“At a time of social isolation and anxiety, these players can escape, socialise and take a break from the difficulties we are all facing at the moment.

“Being able to become a wizard, wise-woman, pirate for a couple of hours a week, and enter a world of magic, monsters and mystery seems to be what some people need right now. We have many people who are also disabled, who we can now reach, that have previously been unable to attend.

“I would love this to become a television or internet show, and I’m currently seeking partners in this field to grow it further. Is this the future of interactive theatre entertainment? Who knows.”