Explore the Historic Grounds of Raffles Hotel Singapore in This New Virtual Interactive Play
One missing Peranakan treasure, six suspects lurking in the hallowed hallways of a grande dame hotel, and the general manager tasked to solve the case before the police are called in—these are all the makings of an Agatha Christie mystery novel. But rather than in the pages of a book, the story of The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure unfolds, from April 1 to June 30, within a virtual interactive play set in the most unlikely of places—the Raffles Hotel Singapore.
Conceptualised by actor-director Hossan Leong of Double Confirm Productions, and written by award-winning playwright Jean Tay, the detective whodunnit tale brings elements of mystery to the historic building, while at the same time exploring its cultural heritage, along with “themes of relationships past and present, between family, friends and lovers”. Leong shares, “Every scene evokes feelings of nostalgia and history. We literally didn’t have to dress the ‘set’. We walked in, rolled the cameras and shot our scenes.”
The 134-year-old grande dame hotel holds a very special place in his heart. “I performed my first musical at the [now-defunct] Jubilee Hall in the mid-1990s. Fast forward to three years ago, I had the honour of hosting the final charity gala before she was closed for restoration and then being invited back to host and perform at The Grand Lobby for her reopening [in 2019]. This sense of familiarity—it’s like coming home.”
Leong also roped in Chong Tze Chien, the creative director of theatre company Sight Lines Entertainment, who was behind the Murder at Mandai Camp production, the first virtual horror-mystery escape room with live-action gameplay in Asia. “Audiences were surprised by how the team had repurposed technology to enhance and change the way we tell a story. It has been a great marriage between good old theatrical elements with new-fangled technological advancements and injections. Arguably, we have created a new genre which combines elements of mystery theatre, interactivity and gameplay,” enthuses Chong.
He brings this creative know-how to The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure, which “employs new interactive features and storytelling techniques that echo Agatha Christie mystery novels”. Brought to life by homegrown theatre talents, including Audrey Luo, Dwayne Lau and Siti Khalijah Zainal, “the virtual interactive play employs a choose-your-own-adventure mechanism, which literally takes you into the nooks and crannies of the luxurious hotel”, explains Chong.
(Related: Singapore Theatre Directors Discuss the Changing Face of Live Productions in 2021)
And thanks to the use of 360-degree virtual reality cameras, audiences will feel as though they are physically there, as they go about piecing together clues and deciding the sequence of the story while exploring the historic grounds.
While Leong admits that this is no substitute for live theatre, he believes that “it can support and enhance the experiences and also enables us to go global to reach a wider audience and brings us onto the digital world stage”.
There is also an option to experience the play in real life from the comfort of one of the hotel’s well-appointed suites, thanks to the exclusive “daycation” and staycation packages. Guests can immerse themselves in the gameplay, before going through the various checkpoints within the hotel to collect clues and solve the mystery.
Every scene evokes feelings of nostalgia and history. We literally didn’t have to dress the ‘set’— Hossan Leong
“The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure underscores our commitment to creating unforgettable memories for each and every guest,” says Raffles Hotel Singapore general manager Christian Westbeld. “Revisiting patrons will have the opportunity to experience the grande dame in a new light, while new guests will get to immerse themselves in an enthralling detective whodunnit tale set against the backdrop of the iconic property and watch as history and mystery collide. No matter where they are in the world, our guests will be able to revel in the hotel’s cultural heritage.”
Chong agrees, “What makes the Raffles Hotel so iconic are the stories, history and myths associated with it. What better way to celebrate its legacy in a new age than with an innovative and novel experience for its fans around the world? While the borders are closed and safe distancing is still on everyone’s minds, we can bring the grande dame to guests in an innovative, safe and refreshing new way.”
And those who succeed in solving the mystery will surely make Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple proud.
- ImagesDouble Confirm Productions, Sight Lines Entertainment and Raffles Hotel Singapore