Crooks 1926 was easily the most talked about live show 2020 (Admittedly, it was a short year for live performances but nevertheless). Now we are back with the COLAB Theatre team for The West, the highly anticipated follow up and arrive with the open world expectations of Red Dead Redemption and the vitriolic dialogues and twists of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
The space, a converted pub previously visited as an East End gangster den, is now divided by saloon doors (watch your drinks), snake oil barrels and even a confessional box. It’s the opening night after a few preview performances, and sold out – after a few delays on the entrance and us all signing a waiver for immersive participation, we join the queue for a drink in the outside part of the venue. I love the atmospheric, metal drinking vessels and make a note in my head to get some for the garden.
We are greeted by a small town mayor, along with her husband, the sheriff, and their soon-to-be outlaw son. Several tasks wait to be assigned to us: Rebuilding the town, earning money for this through gambling and competitive funfair games, and collaborating on strategic defence from marauding bandits. At this point, the overly excited audience is on fire and in their best cowboy accents almost outstages the cast with their idea of arming rattlesnakes – I almost fall off the bench laughing. The performing actors are overrun by enthusiastic, trigger-happy input.
I am not giving away more of the adventures waiting for you at The West, but do not miss the fabulous downstairs area when exploring the space during the interval and when it is time to search for clues bringing the story forward. Little spoiler (and an invitation to visit The West more than once): Do not panic should you or your companions get killed either. The bar stays open and the evening is in safe hands, even if that’s questionable about the little Wild West town we were invited to tonight.
**** out of 5 stars
The West is an immersive theatre production by COLAB Theatre – congratulations to the theatre company’s 10th anniversary this year!
Tickets are available for performances from Wednesday to Saturday until October. Single tickets are available from £28.50, tailored packages and corporate bookings are available.