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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review: 'The Institute of Nuts' at the Matchstick Piehouse Theatre, 9th April 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
4 Stars

Fuck ass-grabbers, service-staff abusers, catcallers, post-pub brawlers, knife-wielding teens, gambling traders, internet CHUDS, braying homophobes and... well, sadly this list could go on for some time. These are the men who, hopped up on testosterone and fuelled by their own insecurities, make life miserable. What is to be done? 

Mark Daniels' Institute of Nuts is a dark comedy about what it means to be a man. The Institute itself is a bizarre boarding school in which teenagers are broken, beaten and brainwashed until they become models of masculinity. We follow three students: new kid B (Theo Toksvig-Stewart), effeminate 'problem' P (Christian Andrews) and the sole female student O (Molly Ward). They're under the direct tutelage of mentor M (Craig Abbott) and the school's overbearing warden/headmistress E (Tori Louis).

The three pupils - who cannot remember how they ended up here - are put through a series of increasingly bizarre lessons. They must learn blind self-confidence, how to squash empathy, take pleasure in violence and that their beliefs are impenetrable. Each student is graded on their behaviour, with those that fall short consigned to play violent videogames, watch action-films and listen to assertive music (Blurred Lines is used as a great example).

It's a very strange setting. Daniels' script never quite roots itself in one genre: part science fiction, part dystopia all smeared with a gooey topping of unvarnished allegory. Director Edwina Strobl stages the play in the round under unforgivingly bright lights, giving the performers nowhere to hide - a sense of surveillance underlined by television screens showing the E suspiciously peering down at her pupils, with the audience providing their own unflinching gaze.

As the play proceeds the situation becomes less a narrative and more a vehicle for an argument about the flawed way society raises men. By the time we're in the closing scenes, the script is practically beating the audience about the head with an (inflatable) club and yelling the themes at you. Some might find this a little too didactic, but hey, if you've got something important to say you might as well be sure that everyone's getting it. This comes to a head in the final scenes, where the end the characters are just yelling statistics (e.g. 95% of mass shooters are men!).

If Institute of Nuts were just a gender politics lecture masquerading as theatre it’d be hard to swallow. Fortunately, the writing displays a consistent level of wit and imagination, with the various lessons feeling like comedy sketches that skewer traditional masculine notions. I was a particular fan of a very effective (and gross) ‘shot roulette’ sequence, in which the pupils are expected to down a random shot that could either be vodka, engine oil or watered down animal shit. I was also consistently amused at the iconography scattered through the piece, with the characters spending their downtime reading through 90s-era James Bond fan magazines (it’s the little touches that count).

It's these constant dabs of comedy that make this play’s bitter pill go down easy. And boy does it prove to be a bitter pill. Towards the end the play pretty much discards its fictional conceit and explains its own metaphor – explaining that we are the pupils trapped inside an invisible prison designed to beat our personalities into shape.

The play’s message is a relatively timeless one – it would have been especially impactful during the 90s lad’s mag era. In 2019 it takes on a new relevance due to the influence of self-help gurus like Jordan Peterson, who combines simple advice about standing up straight and tidying your room with bizarre nonsense about lobster-hierarchies informing human society and claims that femininity represents chaos. That's on top of similar corners of the right-wing internet espousing that young men should develop a 'gorilla mindset' and that the best style of argument is just to yell louder than the other person. 

So yeah, I dug it. It's a smart play staged with no small amount of verve in a cool new theatre. The cast is great, the direction is nice and the message is relevant as all hell. Good stuff.

The Institute of Nuts is at the Matchstick Piehouse Theatre until 12 April. Tickets here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

LIVR: A new perspective on theatre.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Over the years I've seen many fantastic plays. But what happens to them when the curtain falls? In a best case scenario, they might get a regional tour or the occasional revival, but eventually they all simply cease to be, the only evidence they were ever there at all a handful of press shots, the odd review and fading memories. 

LIVR aims for something more comprehensive: recording, preserving, archiving and broadcasting theatre in virtual reality. Their method is to place a 360° camera in the front row of a theatre show with its lens at roughly head-height and simply record the show. When you slide a headset on and click play you're in that front row seat. On a basic level it works, providing a decent simulation of being sat in the theatre.

As anyone familiar with theatre knows, the experience isn't simply what's happening on stage. The venue can provide a tonne of atmosphere (especially if the site is interesting in its own right). 

For example, Out of the Forest Theatre's Bury the Hatchet was performed at the Vault in May 2018. Anyone who's seen a performance there will recognise the stained and damp subterranean Victorian brickwork, with high ceilings providing powerful acoustics and trains rumbling overhead like distant thunder. LIVR's video captures all this - it's a surreal situation to be sat in a virtual version of a theatre I know very well.

Being able to choose where you look in VR also works very well for theatre. One of the benefits theatre has over other storytelling media is that you decide what you want to focus on. For example, in a video recording of a play, the natural thing to do would be to focus on a character giving a grand speech, but in VR you can choose to watch other characters react to it instead just as you would if you were actually there.

That said, right now there are a couple of flies in the ointment. I was demoed LIVR on an Oculus Go, though I believe it's currently only commercially available as an app on the Apple and Android stores. While smartphone-based VR is the easiest entrypoint, it isn't comfortable to watch hour-long shows using HMDs that support the weight of the screen on your face rather than the back of your head. LIVR is currently planning on expanding to other VR platforms, and it'd be far more comfortable to watch a show on, say, Playstation VR, which supports the weight of the screen using the back of your head.

Another major hurdle LIVR has to clear is image quality. In an ideal world, VR video would be as high-resolution as possible, but you must make compromises when you're delivering video to an app (either by downloading or streaming). The resolution of the videos I saw was a little low, which impacted the immersive factor of 'being there'.

Frame-rate is also a problem. In several of the shows I demoed an actor moving quickly across a stage appeared jerky and slightly blurry. The ideal for VR video is 90fps, though once again that results in large file sizes that are impracticable for delivering to mobile devices.

Finally, LIVR has chosen to avoid stereoscopic (3D) videos. Their reasoning is that watching an hour-long stereoscopic video causes eye-strain. That might be the case, but several of the shows I demoed would be much more engaging in 3D (Boys, for example). 3D is one of the main advantages of any kind of VR content, so even if does cause eye-strain it'd be nice to have it as an option.

But I don't want to sound too down on LIVR - these issues are all solved problems for VR developers, and they just need to be implemented in a cost-effective and bandwidth conscious way. LIVR is a new company with big plans and as they refine their recording processes, as fibre internet becomes more common and as VR technology advances, these technical hurdles will be cleared.

But even now they're getting a whole lot right. What really impressed me when chatting with the company was how much they genuinely appreciated theatre. Hearing someone speaking about the magic of smaller-scale theatre and the importance of preserving performances for future viewers was music to my ears. 

On top of that LIVR opens up theatrical performances to people who are unable to attend due to accessibility requirements or because they're not based in London - not to mention providing actors, writer and directors with a record of their performance that captures what other media can't.

It's a smart and effective use of VR technology, but more importantly, LIVR has the right philosophy. I can't wait to see where they go next.

Check out LIVR on their website and here on Instagram.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Review: 'The Noises' at The Old Red Lion, 4th April 2019

Friday, April 5, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 1 Star

In retrospect, the rape scene told from the point of the view of a golden retriever was probably the low point. That's a bit of a non sequitur to begin a review with, but it's genuinely difficult to know where to begin with Jacqueline Saphra's The Noises, one of the most bafflingly ill-conceived plays I've ever seen.

The story is told entirely from the perspective of a dog, Luna (Amy McAllister). She spends almost all of the play locked inside a room while mysterious events happen in the house around her that she (and by extension us) must puzzle out. Somewhere along the way, Luna becomes aware of the presence of the audience and, uh, World War III happens. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Directed by Jacqueline's daughter Tamar, the play consists of Luna talking directly to the audience in short, chopped up monosyllabic sentences about whatever's on her mind. This could be anything from how delicious eating vomited up chicken is, what the concept of 'clean' means to a dog, her opinions of the various family members, how much she needs to take a shit and so on. During this, McAllister isn't so much miming being a dog as trying to imbue certain dog-like qualities in her performance. So, for example, when she's happy she wiggles her butt a bit.

Perhaps this might have worked as a brief dramatic sketch, maybe a twenty-minute long experiment in conveying a dog's eye view on the world. But, despite being billed at 70 minutes, The Noises actually comes in quite a bit longer than that. And trust me, you'll feel every single minute agonisingly tick by. If I hadn't been there to review the show I would have walked out - and during a quick mid-play glance across the audience I noticed that there were a couple of people who'd simply fallen asleep. Lucky bastards.

What's particularly confusing about this whole affair is reading in the programme that writer Jacqueline Saphra is a published poet, teacher and has had playwriting commissions from various notable institutions. It's a CV that simply doesn't tesselate with The Noises, which is written in the unfocused style of a group A-Level drama project.

How else to explain the sudden foray into fourth wall breaking metafiction when Luna can suddenly perceive the theatre in which she's performing and begins interrogating the audience? Did no-one think it was a problem that the actual narrative was presented through pre-recorded, difficult to hear, muffled audio? Why does Luna, hitherto presented to us as a golden retriever, put on shoes and stroll about at one point? What the actual fuck is going on with the apocalyptic World War III third act in which society begins to crumble and Luna must race through a bombed out landscape to save her mistress from... somebody? 

And then there's the aforementioned rape scene. If you're writing a rape scene of any kind you're in tricky dramatic territory and really, really need to be sure you're getting this right. And if you're writing said rape scene from the point of view of a dog? There are some things best left on the cutting room floor, especially if your play is already grossly overlong.

Amidst all this, I have a deep and abiding pity for Amy McAllister. Luna is a nightmare role that requires her to humiliate herself in front of a paying audience for the best part of the month. She is a trained, professional and no doubt skilled actor but any talents she possesses are pancaked under the mindblowingly bad script. To her credit, I don't think there's an actor on the planet that could make this work.

As the play wheezed itself through a final set of contortions I sat there miserably pondering what had become of my Thursday night. The Noises feels like a play characters in a sitcom would see to poke fun at experimental theatre. It's the kind of play that makes you seriously question the wisdom of writing about theatre if you have to spend your time digesting garbage like this. It is a bad, bad, bad play and I am baffled that it passed the quality tests of this generally excellent pub theatre.

In an ideal world, The Noises should have been subjected to a basic sanity check early in its gestation. 

"Is this a good idea for a play?" 

"No, no it is not."

The Noises is at The Old Red Lion Theatre until 20th April. Tickets here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Review: 'Box Clever' & 'Killymuck' at The Bunker Theatre, 2nd April 2019

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Box Clever: 4 Stars
Killymuck: 4 Stars

The Conservative Party are the biggest destructive force the United Kingdom has faced since the Luftwaffe. Forget the occasional bombing, overseas military threat or predatory superpower. Their true evil is that every second they've been in power since 1979, they've been gradually making life worse for the vast majority of people by funnelling public money into their (and their public school chums') bank accounts.

The British Medical Journal estimates that their austerity politics has been directly linked to 120,000 deaths since 2010 that would not have otherwise occurred since 2010, with those casualties disproportionately occuring amongst the poorest in society. Now David Cameron's brilliant idea to have a Brexit referendum has left us teetering on the edge of economic collapse, and you can bet that those who'll die because of it won't be Old Etonians.

The consequences of Conservative ideology are keenly felt in this double-bill of plays written, directed and performed by women. Though geographically and temporally separated, both take an unflinching look at what a vote for the Tories causes.

First up is Box Clever, written by Monsay Whitney, directed by Stef O'Driscoll and performed by Redd Lily Roche. This tells an intensely frustrating and moving tale of a mother caught in a byzantine web of support structures. Marnie lives in a woman's refuge and is doing her best for her four-year-old daughter Autumn: abusive and violent men circle her like sharks around a wounded dolphin and the government and charitable services theoretically designed to save her from her misery are fragmented, under-funded and don't communicate with one another.

Whitney gradually zeroes in on the classism that ruins Marnie's life. The managers of the refuge, the don't-give-a-fuck council housing officers and the sceptical police officers hear her south London accent and instantly drop her down to the bottom of the credibility ladder. As Marnie is continually ignored, sidelined and condescended to, her and our anger reaches boiling point. 

I've worked in the court system for over a decade (including spells in the Family Court) and Marnie's situation is sadly all too familiar. It's also all too easy to predict what's going to happen to her: the stress of the situation will exacerbate her depression, resulting in a downward spiral that will probably see her child taken into care. What really sticks in the throat is that this misery was never inevitable: if public services hadn't been cut to the bone Marnie's life wouldn't be collapsing around her ears

This is a raw and visceral piece of theatre and Lily Roche's performance is mindblowing (and clearly emotionally taxing). Perhaps the ending is a bit abrupt and leaves things unresolved, but showing how things are going to go for Marnie from this point on is going to be like rubbing salt into the wound. Box Clever isn't exactly entertaining in a traditional sense, but I can think of many civil servants for which this play should be mandatory viewing.

Killymuck takes a different approach to social deprivation. Written by Kat Woods, directed by Caitriona Shoobridge and played by Aoife Lennon, the play shows us the childhood of Niamh as she grows up on a maligned housing estate over the 80s and 90s. Kicking off with a quote from Margaret Thatcher, we learn about the Killymuck estate, described as a cursed area where society sends all its misfits and down-and-outs.

Though this is ultimately as depressing a story as Box Clever, Lennon infuses her character with bouncy and charismatic energy, pinballing around the stage as she neatly conveys childish enthusiasm. As we proceed through her life, we see how this smart and talented child is gradually ground to dust by underfunded schools, classist teachers and government that couldn't give a solitary shit about estate girls like her.

Killymuck isn't afraid of spelling out its message. Throughout the show, Lennon breaks character to back up the play's argument with statistics, for example explaining how a pupil's economic background has a drastic impact on their exam results. If Box Clever was a person reaching breaking point over a very bad month, Killymuck is like straw gradually being piled onto a camel's back. As Aoife grows up she internalises what her environment and society is yelling at her: you are scum, you have no future and you will fail.

It's an excellent piece of writing and beautifully performed. The only fly in the ointment is that there's a very repetitive backing track playing throughout the piece. I get that this helps keep the show to a rhythm, but there were times I wish they'd have given it a rest. Also, purely for reasons of temporal neatness, I think Killymuck would work better before Box Clever, as we'd see the immediate and long-term effects of Thatcherite politics in order.

These two plays honestly and plainly depict the direct results of putting the Conservative Party in power. You should come out of these shows with a burning desire to prevent any Tory politician from ever seeing a glimpse of office so long as they live. At this stage in our politics, with so many historic and current examples of greed, stupidity, sadism and corruption, anyone who votes for, supports or is a member of the Conservative Party has crossed a moral event horizon.

Stories like Marnie's and Aoife's are why we need a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government now. From the way things are going that's what we'll have very soon - let's just hope there's enough of the country left to save after the Tories are done fucking it.

Box Clever & Killymuck are at The Bunker Theatre until 13 April.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Review: 'Random Selfies' at Ovalhouse, 21 March 2019

Friday, March 22, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 2 Stars

Loretta is ten years old and cannot understand why she would want to take a photo that isn't a selfie. What on earth would be the point of a photograph without her in it? This is the core of Mike Kenny's Random Selfies, a show that tries to understand how social media has altered the way children perceive the world, their relationships and themselves.

The show is firmly set within Loretta's world. Christina Ngoyi plays every role, altering her tone and body language in order to quickly convey her teasing mother, older neighbour Mrs Thing and her new friend Maya. A meandering narrative takes through a typical couple of days in Loretta's life in which she meets a new friend (asylum seeker Maya) and worries about whether she's going to be invited to the popular's girl's birthday party.

Though the set is a broadly realistic ten-year-old's bedroom, Rachana Jadhav's digital projection mapping allows it to become various other locations, as well as introducing hallucinatory depictions of Loretta's life and feelings. Memories of old posters fade into view on the walls, a wall becomes transparent and astronauts float lazily through the night sky. 

Nothing particularly dramatic happens in Random Selfies, but then the whole objective appears to be to create a play that mirrors the lives of any children in the audience. I'm sure they can empathise with Loretta when she protests her mother temporarily confiscating her tablet, annoyed at the invasion of privacy and worried that her secrets are going to be revealed. Similarly, there's a nicely pitched eternal angst about fitting in, with Loretta fretting that her name isn't amongst the most popular names in the country.

Running through all of this is a theme about fear of invisibility, a metaphor for loneliness. First introduced when Loretta and her brother are discussing which superpower they'd have, her brother sees it as a ticket to doing whatever he wants and learning secrets. Loretta understands it as a kind of existential threat: her world is governed by visibility and microscopic kernels of praise, the worst case scenario her fading into life's background and forever going unacknowledged.

This is all very relevant stuff. You can't open a broadsheet without reading some columnist fretting that children these days are being made miserable by their exposure to social media. I'm generally pretty sceptical of this sort of thing: every generation is 'ruined' by some new technology that adults are suspicious of: be it social media, texting, videogames, the internet or television. 

But there is definitely something dramatically worthwhile about getting to grips with the unique ways that online interaction affects children. The best moments of Random Selfies are when Loretta is curating a new identity for herself, trying to rebrand herself 'Lola', with a fresh personality at odds with her true self. Watching children promoting themselves within a competitive marketplace of personas is a great way to show how a hyper-capitalist society unconsciously warps those within it, and the musings on this are when the show is at its best.

But - perhaps because the play is short and aimed at children - there is simply not enough time to properly work through this complex topic. Throughout the show, there's a tension between keeping it accessible for children in the audience and including enough meat for the adults to chew on. The end result is a show that's too dull for younger audiences (I heard bored whispering) and too lightweight for adults. 

I'm with the kids on this one. Though I appreciate that the show shies away from talking down to younger audiences by dramatising their lives without condescension, it struggled to keep my attention. And when the show is a mere 55 minutes long, that's a problem. At least in this form, Random Selfies lacks energy and rhythm, moving at a trudge when you want it to sprint. 

Random Selfies is at Ovalhouse until 7 April. Tickets here.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review: 'Piaf: The Legend' at The Crazy Coqs, 20 March 2019

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

Edith Piaf lived an interesting life. The daughter of an acrobat and a cafe singer, she was abandoned at birth and raised in a brothel. Learning her trade singing on the streets of Paris, she was plucked from obscurity and became one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century. But even with fame and wealth, sadness was never far from the singer famously dubbed 'The Little Sparrow'.

Her life is fascinating and her songs are beautiful, which explains why it's been such fertile ground for drama, with Piaf being the subject of multiple biopic films, plays and books over the years. Now, with Piaf: The Legend, New Zealand singer Mandy Meadows presents a classy evening of chansons at Crazy Coqs, accompanied by an authentically Parisian sounding band.

As Meadows acknowledges early on, the diminutive French singer is quite at odds with her: a tall, blonde New Zealander. But despite their physical differences, when Meadows sings she captures something of the distinct Piaf aural experience. I'm no musicologist, but I've always loved the way Piaf poured so much emotional resonance into her songs. In every recording, you hear her not just singing a song but performing it, emphasising words and phrases until they're practically creaking with pathos.

Meadows has an admirable set of pipes and manages to capture this elusive quality without sounding like a mere impersonation. The litmus test of any Piaf tribute show has got to be the iconic Non, je ne regrette rien. Meadows absolutely nails this - you get the impression that it's as much as pleasure for her to perform as it is for us to hear it. 

Interspersed with the songs are a potted biopic of her life, with Meadows giving her take on what it meant to be Edith Piaf. The most effective sequence is about her doomed love with boxer Marcel Cerdan, one of France's most highly esteemed sporting heroes. Their love story ended with tragedy when his plane crashed on his way to visit her, and Meadows delivers this with a flair and skill that make the following songs that much more effective.

That said, this is a rather uncritical take on Piaf's life. Meadows resurrects the largely debunked and apocryphal tale of Piaf aiding prisoners of war during the Nazi Occupation of France. It's a rousing tale in which she craftily uses her fame and ingenuity to forge passports and save the lives of about a hundred French fighters. It's also almost certainly a post-occupation PR exercise concocted to fend off the accusations that she passively collaborated with the Nazis - having performed shows in clubs reserved for German officers.

I don't necessarily mind a hagiography, but I think it makes for a far more interesting story if you show how Piaf wasn't a perfect moral actor and that there are aspects of her life that should be criticised. But then I suppose this is Piaf: The Legend rather than Piaf: The Woman. 

Whatever your opinion on that, you can't deny Meadows' vocal talents and the way she breathes life and vitality into these classic songs. I believe the show is going on tour later this year, so if it rolls into your town prepare yourself for a smart and stylish night, all borne on the breath of a seriously talented singer.

This review was conducted via a live stream of the performance from Crazy Coqs.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: 'For King and Country: 1944' at CoLab Factory, 14th March 2018

Friday, March 15, 2019 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

Just under a year ago I reviewed Parabolic Theatre's For King and Country, which tasked the audience with repelling a Nazi invasion of England in 1940. I loved it. Proper immersive theatre is surprisingly hard to find, with many shows billing themselves as immersive despite being nothing of the sort. But Parabolic do it right, trusting the audience to move the narrative along and nudging us towards developments that feel organic. 

So when I was invited along to the sequel, For King and Country: 1944, I leapt at the chance. Whereas the previous show asked us to play a fictional government under threat of invasion, 1944 drops us into a United Kingdom now firmly under the Nazi jackboot. Operation Sealion was a success, Winston Churchill has been executed, the British Army is now under Nazi command and Oswald Mosley seems pleased as punch.

But all is not lost. It is June 6th, 1944 and on the east Irish coast there's an Allied liberation force formed of American and Commonwealth troops. They're preparing to invade Britain and drive the fascists out - but they're going to need support from Resistance fighters remaining in London if they're going to succeed. And that's where you come in.

Correctly taking the view that if it's broken don't fix it, 1944 is structurally very similar to its predecessor. The audience is divided into different departments which need to co-operate with one another to achieve shared goals, our decisions are evaluated and consequences decided off-stage and we must react and cope with events taking place around the country. 

If this all sounds a bit intimidating, it is. At least to begin with. Though the audience is trusted to link pieces of information, draw conclusions from them and execute a plan, the cast is always ready to help and, if you're going seriously off-piste, will subtly point you back in the right direction.

I spent my time in the Intelligence Department, which consisted of poring over documents in order to direct the other departments towards military and espionage aims. Whoever at Parabolic is in charge of producing all this paperwork deserves some kind of award - it's all utterly convincing, full of world-building detail and has a trail of breadcrumbs scattered through it that rewards lateral thinking. 

Based on these documents our team successfully sniffed out secret Nazi weapons programmes, made calls impersonating Nazi commanders so as to confuse the chain of command, and forged documents to get our spies and assassins where they needed to be. Now, you might not think forging documents would be particularly exciting - but it's surprisingly rewarding to figure out ways to replicate every last detail of a document with what you have to hand.

I don't want to explain too much more of what happens for fear of spoiling the surprise, but much like its prequel, I had a great time putting myself into another world and puzzling my way through a situation completely removed from my everyday life. Huge credit to the cast (Christopher Styles, Edward Andrews, Zoe Flint, Tom Black, Ed Cartwright, Beth Whitaker and Owen Kingston), who are some of the most quick-witted and natural improvisers I've seen in years.

So how does 1944 compare to 1940? Both are excellent shows, but I think the original remains the one to see. I think this boils down to 1944 feeling less dynamic: you are essentially a third party in the conflict between the Nazis and Allied Forces, which makes you feel slightly less involved in what's happening than if you were, say, commanding the invading forces yourself. Similarly, while the objectives and surprising developments are fun, there's nothing quite on the same level as the revelations you learn in 1940.

Plus - and this is in no way a criticism of the company or the show - at the performance I attended there were a couple of Hooray Henry city boys who got drunk, sniggered and whispered through the serious moments, and had to be told not to take selfies in the middle of the show. To the audience's credit, there were attendees who took the whole thing seriously, but it's a reminder that any show that relies so much on the audience can easily be spoiled by a couple of bad eggs.

If you've already seen and loved 1940, this is a no-brainer. The way Parabolic Theatre develop the story and construct a scarily believable world is way beyond what other immersive companies are trying to achieve. That said, it doesn't quite hit the heights of what came before, but it's still an easy recommendation.

For King and Country: 1940 and 1944 are playing on alternate nights (and as a weekend double-bill) at Colab Factory until April 28th. Tickets here.

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