BWW Review: CROOKS 1926, King William IV
COLAB Theatre have woven another thrilling adventure: the company strikes gold with the Peaky Blinder-infused Crooks 1926. London is held in the grips of the Sabini family, but the McDonalds are plotting to take over. After their patriarch's death, brothers Charles "Wag" (Angus Woodward) and William "Wal" (Simon Pothecary) have gathered their clan to mourn the former leader and plan their road to supremacy.
They hand full agency to their audience, pushing them to negotiate deals, determine allegiances, crack codes, fix horse races, and more. As per the company's trademark, everything the individuals do has an impact on the ultimate outcome of the storyline with a dedicated team hiding away to keep track of the ever-changing plot and arranging prompt bespoke responses such as radio broadcasts.
The journey to 1926 quite literally begins at the door of the King Williams IV pub in Elephant and Castle. Everything - from the interiors of the building to the appearance of the actors - is curated to the smallest detail. Old timey radios, gramophones, newspapers, and knick-knacks litter the place in Bertie Watkin's (also COLAb's Artistic Director) meticulous production. The performances are as incredible and unflappable as the outer look.
The group build a precise atmosphere and manage to maintain it throughout the two-and-a-half hours. Woodward and Pothecary lead the action with Holli Dixon as Alice Diamond, while Tom Black and Naail Ishaq handle a handful of intriguing and occasionally hilarious but mostly intimidating characters. Watkin also employs sound design as an effective device to alter the mood: from incidental period music to threatening, resounding tracks, it comes in sneakily and inconspicuously to create a soundtrack of sorts.
As a whole, Crooks 1926 is an astonishingly executed project. The ensemble work flawlessly with each other, actively involving the participants in their exploits and displaying striking chemistry and magnetism. At this point, COLAB might as well be one of the very few companies who can actually fly the immersive flag. Their latest enterprise is nothing less than extraordinary and crowns them as the indisputable rulers of South London.