Slip into the world of Peaky Blinders – CROOKS 1926, an immersive theatre game (it is game-ish), is on through March 29th, and is a great night out.
COLAB theatre group’s new immersive experience is called CROOKS because most of the characters you’ll meet are not exactly fine upstanding citizens. While you might not be wearing a flatcap (1920s costumes are encouraged but not at all mandatory) a lot of the mourners at this big, friendly wake will be wearing their black versions. See, the patriarch of the McDonald clan has passed away, and naturally you are stopping by to pay your respects to the sons and daughter he’s left behind.
The mourners at the McDonald wake are real Crooks
However, this isn’t just a family occasion – the heads of all of the local Unions will be there, plus politicians, the town doctor, the prominent citizens of this village, even the Duke of Westminster. McDonald had a lot of friends, and a lot of enemies.
With over ten years of experience, COLAB’s production here is well-laid out and confidently produced. A lot can go wrong with immersive theatre – not the least of all you can get some bad acting. The COLAB gang here is uniformly good, with Angus Woodward, Simon Pothecary and a cool as hell Holli Dixon as the main characters, real hstorical figures. The charming company fills in the rest of the roles, some wearing many literal hats.
CROOKS is not a murder mystery. There is a group goal, clear and established early, and you’re steered towards fun and sneaky ways of making that happen. There are many side stories going on and surprises here and there; I’ll keep those quiet.
All wakes should be this criminally fun
Juggling all of these balls and twenty newbie patrons means all nights are unique and not everything goes perfectly. I did have an issue with some of the audio. There is a fast pace to the show and certain “communications,” lets call them, are critical to keeping up. Both myself, a native English speaker, and my lovely Italian companions would have liked a little more articulation.
The on-point cast makes it fun, and they guide rather than push you where you need to be. They’ve even worked a break into the two and a half hour evening, giving the audience a chance to meet and mingle and have a drink (great house red, by the way). Everyone there on the night I attended was friendly, sociable and thankfully not too “theatre-y”.
I really enjoyed this fun, well-constructed evening, and it is well worth the £28. Perhaps the ultimate compliment to immersive theatre – I’d like to go play again.
Crooks 1926 at the COLAB Pub, 16 Harper Road, London, SE1 6AD
Visit their website here
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.