Armed police scrambled to reports of 'gunshots and screaming' in central London find immersive theatre show

Neighbour calls 999 after hearing sound from interactive production

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The Independent Online

Dozens of armed police were deployed in central London amid reports of gunshots and screaming – only to find an “immersive theatre” show was the cause of the false alarm.

The Metropolitan Police sent five armed response vehicles after a terrified resident phoned 999 in Borough on Friday evening.

But officers swiftly discovered the sounds were emanating from a production called Hunted by CoLab Theatre, which sees the audience pursued by actors posing as gunmen.

“Attended a call to gunshots/people screaming in Long Lane #SE1 last night,” a tweet by the Borough Police team read. 

“Five ARVs attended.Turned out to be a show by CoLab Theatre.

“Local residents had been informed about their shows but one hadn't read the letter. Local police had no idea!”

An advertisement for the show says audience members pose as VIPs who have their “protection compromised”.

“Are you skilled enough to evade the evil agents of the ETF?” it asks. “Will you be able to escape?”

A spokesperson for the production company told the BBC an actor was leading the audience outside when armed police approached, with participants staying in the foyer as he showed officers props and explained what was happening.

“At Colab, we are always pushing the boundaries further and further away from immersive and into the very lives of the audience,” a statement said.

”It's a big show with massive intensity so we haven't held back on making it feel real.

“Audiences' safety is our highest priority - even though we have done everything in our power to make all the correct authorities and neighbours aware of what the show involves, the police were called.

”We are glad that in an age where we're plugged into our phone, at least these things get responded to - another accolade to the solid community of Borough in a quickly developing London.“

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