8th April – 10th June 2018
Directed by Owen Kingston
It’s December 1940 and a German invasion force has landed on the south coast of England.
For several weeks the invaders have been building up their forces on the coast, while the mighty Luftwaffe have pounded the RAF into submission. As the invasion force prepares to strike north and capture London, King Edward VIII refuses the resignation of British Prime Minister Lord Halifax, triggering a constitutional crisis. It is Britain’s darkest hour.
Parliament is recalled, and with all the members of both houses meeting in Westminster, a small group of backbench MPs and their families – designated survivors – are taken to a secure location south of the river Thames. They are completely unaware of the imminent events that will thrust them into the limelight and put the fate of the nation in their hands.
You are among those designated survivors. Your decisions will shape the course of history. Can you save the British people from the invading forces, or will the war be over by Christmas?
‘Another WW2 Immersive Experience?’ I hear you ask.
Why yes indeed and ENTIRELY different.
For the tacticians or secret logistic experts or people who just love a jolly good debate, this show will be entirely for you.
On arrival, myself and my companion were greeted by Douglas Remington-Hobbs and handed identity cards stating our position or whether we were ‘just’ a plus one’. Mr Remington-Hobbs would be running the evenings events and guiding us as group.
We were walked down into the space and asked whether we wanted to exchange our new-fangled modern money for shillings in order to spend said shillings at the bar.
I really liked this element as it gave us as audience members a chance to shed off our modern identities and step into a new space and the world of the piece.
We were then briefed on the situation in a type of war cabinet style space and the plus ones (myself being one of them) were escorted out of the ‘war cabinet’ as we would not be participating. Rather ironically, we were both women. We discussed with the female character who had escorted us about our right to vote and she encouraged that we speak up for ourselves.
Which we did. The first call of debate however was whether we should.
This got the ball rolling and connected us as a group participating in the further and more increasingly difficult choices at hand.
As a group we had to vote for a prime minister, deputy prime minister, foreign secretary, war minister and propaganda minister.
We then had the chance to go into different parts of the space getting involved in different activities, projects, and further choices, then coming back together again for renewed debate based on what we’d done.
I made the choice to wander round overhearing pockets of conversation, different interactions with characters and the various war missions. You could however devote yourself to one or many depending on your role or general temperament.
Without giving too much away as I really encourage this as a show to be experienced blindly, various things are revealed, and you can invest and investigate as much as your heart should desire.
Each show will be entirely different based on your choices as audience members and the way the show is constructed.
Each character is entirely engaging and interesting and a lot of time and devotion has been put into making them real, believable and people that you want to connect with.
I loved that the group I was a part of was a real eclectic mix of people, not just artsy theatre types. A group of ladies, a few young couples and an older pair dressed like they were from WW2.
For my taste, and it was possibly because I chose to actively stand back and watch others rather than entirely engage, there wasn’t enough variety in activities in the show and the stakes didn’t nearly feel high enough until the last moment. I discussed this with my companion and he entirely disagreed which I feel is important to state.
A very engaging and lively evening and another success for Colab Theatre.
More immersive experiences please and thank you.