‘The Boys’ Are Back in Town
The Boys Get the V Review | To launch season 3 of the explosive comic book adaptation ‘The Boys’, streaming platform Amazon Prime and UK based immersive theatre big guns Swamp Motel team up for “a f**king diabolical immersive experience”. Warning – this one’s “not for pussies”. An immersive experience that might just literally blow your head off. It’s your chance to help Butcher and The Boys infiltrate Vought’s London HQ to smuggle out some contraband Temp V. Unless you get caught, in which case – you’re f*cked.
Date Played: 31st May 2022
Time Taken: 25 minutes
Number of Players: 2
Ultra-gory, scabrously sexy and liberally littered with expletives, the Amazon Prime adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s ‘The Boys’ comic books has pushed buttons and boundaries since it started streaming in 2019. Now back for a third series (with the first episode due to drop on Fri 3 June, then eps following weekly), this is a darkly cynical, gloriously grotesque and twisted take on the superhero genre and for just a few days London is playing host to an immersive version of its particular brand of death and debauchery.
But what’s it all about?
At the heart of ‘The Boys’ is a gang of superpowered All American heroes, known as ‘the supes’ who regularly save the day, to the delight of an adoring public who lap up the media frenzy that surrounds the shiny, super-suited idols. But underneath the Supes sleek surface is a corrupt heart. These heroes are the manufactured products of the Vought Corporation who pump the Supes bodies full of a superhero serum known as V, and pump their already inflated egos to bursting point. The Supes may look like the good guys but in reality they’re a bunch of dark-hearted whack jobs who don’t care how many bodies they trample over in pursuit of sex, power and a dose of V.
Only a few people know the truth and this is where the real heroes, ‘The Boys’ come in. Led by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban on his best beardy, sweary form) these guys have made it their personal mission to bring the Supes and the Vought Corporation to their knees.
And Why Do I Care?
Because to launch season 3 Amazon Prime has teamed up with immersive theatre geniuses, Swamp Motel, to create an experience which promises to be explosive. And very possibly bloody. And almost definitely sweary.
As a huge fan of the TV show and as an even bigger fan of Swamp Motel (whose trio of online ‘Isklander’ games were a highlight of 2 years of lockdown and whose immersive show/escape room ‘The Drop’ was a beautifully built thrill ride) I couldn’t wait to see what they’d concocted.
What’s the Plan, Stan?
Billy Butcher is in town and needs your help. He’s got intel that our very own Foreign Secretary has teamed up with the Vought Corporation to smuggle in doses of ‘temp V’ – a version of the Supe drug that’ll give anyone superhero powers for 24 hours. Butcher knows that getting hold of the temp V could even up the playing field as he and the boys take on those dangerous Supes. But he needs a local squad to break into Vought’s secret London base. He needs brave souls. And very probably dispensable ones too.
So after receiving a an email mission briefing from Butcher himself, me and a few brave/foolish/expendable (delete as applicable) teammates arrived at Vought’s London HQ to find there’d been an incident. A very gory incident. A random body parts and bloody puddles incident. A security guard with his intestines hanging out kind of incident. And when our ‘handler’ also met an explosively sticky end it was up to us to figure out how to infiltrate Vought’s security systems, navigate our way around some mutant Supes and get our hands on some samples of temp V. Severed hands and bloodied eyeballs might have played a part.
This brief immersive foray into the world of the Supes vs The Boys is just that, brief. We were in and out in 25 mins. And this definitely isn’t an escape room or puzzle hunt – apart from a couple of short-lived searches for security codes and/or information, the immersive element mostly involves walking round blood-splattered offices, picking your way over copious corpses and being shouted at and abused by Vought operatives, who, fair play to them, threw themselves into the roles with both gusto and a varied vocabulary of insults.
This is immersive action very much in the vein of the show – gory, darkly funny and rude. Very very very rude. Those of a sensitive disposition should stay well clear but fans of ‘The Boys’ will revel in the show’s standard level of sheer filth brought to technicoloured life. Even for a short-lived pop-up promo Swamp Motel’s high quality production build is as evident as ever, and the sheer scale of the enterprise is impressive with multiple sets spread throughout a roomy office block. And the cast is committed, fast-witted and brave. Staged fight choreography is hard to pull off at close quarters but Swamp Motel’s team give it a game go at the event’s climax and the … erm … appendages, that some of the cast are asked to lug around takes supe-level chutzpah to carry off.
Despite being an official Amazon Prime season launch promo and an event that will inevitably appeal mostly to the show’s fan base, there was surprisingly, and disappointingly, little footage from the show itself featured. A video briefing from Butcher or an abusive warning off from top Supe (and sleaze) Homelander would have been a nice touch. A little more time to free roam the various sets and admire the details and Easter eggs that fans enjoy would also have been welcome, but with only 4 days of shows and very limited tickets it’s maybe no surprise that you find yourself unceremoniously dumped out on the street fairly quickly, insults still ringing in your ears.
Direct comparisons with Swamp Motel’s superb ‘Isklander’ and ‘The Drop’ games are probably unfair as ‘Get the V’ is a very different beast both in intent and execution. This is very much a guided journey with limited scope for audience autonomy. But it is also still a filthily funny immersive adventure into the gory, grimy world of ‘The Boys’, where expletives, exploding heads and dick jokes are common currency. And while we might never get to sample the infamous ‘V’, this is a satisfyingly bawdy appetiser for those of us who are frothing at the mouth at the thought of season 3.