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Theatre Review: For King and Country @ Colab Factory

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The year is 1940. Edward VIII reigns. The Germans have invaded England and the Nazi forces are drawing ever closer to conquering our island. Things...aren’t looking so great for us as a country.

Image: Owen Kingston

Of course, this is a very different reality to our actual history, but Colab Theatre’s newest piece of immersive theatre, For King and Country, catapults their audience into this alternate history.

Immersive theatre is a unique beast: part game; part experience; part theatre. When done right. And Colab Theatre definitely does it right. No credit or debit cards or Great British Pounds here; in 1940s London, we use shillings.

From the moment you step into the Colab building: a lovely, multi-storied space nestled near Tower Bridge, you are no longer in 2018 London; you are a Designated Survivor in 1940 – a Person of Great Importance who must step into the shoes of the big decision makers if the worst should happen.

Safe spoiler alert: the worst happens, leaving the audience with some very big decisions to make.

Now, I can’t actually write too much without giving away the crux of the story, but I will say that alongside the main obstacle of the show, the details change with every show. Along with a group of actors bringing the world to life, a historian is on hand to make sure that everything that happens in the show is as close to what could have happened as one can surmount. And considering the progress of the show relies entirely on the audience itself, this is no easy feat.

The atmosphere is constructed flawlessly: the tension builds when necessary and, when not, the room is filled with lovely gramophone music. The actors flourish in their improvisation and the audience on my night were well up for the challenge... as well as well-watered, which definitely added to the actors’ improv plates.

The time flies; I didn’t leave the building until past 11pm and the four hours I was there went by exceedingly quickly.

For King and Country is a great example of immersive theatre done well: an experience that relies on participation and the suspension of disbelief. Colab Theatre does a great job of initiating the audience into their world and getting us to want to participate. For a show that’s a little bit more than your standard evening at the theatre, get yourself a ticket.

God Save the King.

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