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For King and Country: 1940 and For King and Country: 1944

For King and Country: 1940 and For King and Country: 1944Britain, 1940. But not as you know it. King Edward VIII is on the throne and the Nazis are advancing on London. What happens next?

On arriving at The Colab Factory in Southwark, you are issued with a National Identity Card before descending to the lower level of what was once a rug manufacturer’s premises. You arrive in an atmospheric secret bunker to find that you are one of a small group of politicians. What happens next is up to you, you can simply enjoy the incredible detail of director Owen Kingston’s carefully researched production and the beautifully characterised performances of Zöe Flint, Peter Dewhurst, Edward Andrews, Christopher Styles and the rest of the superb cast, or you can get actively involved in any number of ways, perhaps plan insurgency or persuade your peers to elect you as a coalition minister or help write propaganda speeches or…

Everything that happens in the bunker – and outside – is convincingly executed, and the attention to detail is incredibly impressive, not only in the obvious things like the uniforms and equipment and above all the historical accuracy of the challenges and dilemmas with which the cast and audience are confronted, but also in the quality of the sound and lighting effects and the actors, much of which is necessarily improvised in response to suggestions and questions from the audience.

For King and Country: 1940 was first performed in 2018 and, for 2019, Parabolic have produced a sequel, For King and Country: 1944. As the title implies this is set four years later and the UK is firmly under Nazi rule. As with 1940, what happens next is determined by the audience but, unlike most sequels, the structure and details of 1944 are wholly different – just as immersive and interactive, and just as unpredictable.

Both of these lengthy but fast-moving shows can be enjoyed separately but, if you can spare the time, the best way to enjoy them is to take in both on a Saturday and Sunday and find out how decisions you helped take in the first play out in the second.

In immersive theatre the audience unravels the story by following characters as they process through a setscape that has been carefully designed to intrigue, to enchant or to bewilder. Your individual choices determine what you get out of the experience but they rarely shape the outcome itself. This is where Parabolic Theatre excel, taking immersion to a new level by creating a warm and wittily presented scenario and engaging the audience as interactive co-storytellers rather than passive spectators. Quite simply, For King and Country is immersive theatre on steroids.

Unmissable, and highly recommended.

5 Star Rating

Review by Louis Manzini

After the huge success of For King and Country last year it is returning once again to London – this time with a second show alongside it. Both set in the same alternate-history Britain with the same characters these two shows are very different in feel. In “For King and Country: 1940” the audience set up a government and war cabinet to lead the country in the middle of a Nazi invasion, while in “For King and Country: 1944” the audience become the British resistance leadership taking on the occupying government of the Third Reich as guerrilla insurgents and enabling the Allies to mount a counter-invasion.

Although these two shows stand alone and can be enjoyed independently of each other, there is also the opportunity to book pairs of performances, where the starting point of the sequel is directly linked to the audience decisions and actions taken in the original show. In this way, actions taken in 1940 can directly affect the course of the war in 1944.

In “For King and Country: 1940” the audience direct the defence of Britain from a secret command bunker in central London. In “For King and Country: 1944” the audience are resistance leaders and have to break into the same command bunker that has been commandeered by the Nazi high command, using the valuable intelligence they find there to guide the Allied forces to victory.

These two shows offer an interactive and immersive experience that fuses theatre and game mechanics to tell a compelling story of a history that came frighteningly close to being real. Both shows put the audience in the driving seat of the narrative, incorporating the audience’s decisions and actions and building them into the world of the show on the fly. In both shows, the actors have no script – just a strong narrative structure, well-developed and researched characters, and a ton of historical information to draw on. It truly is down to the audience what direction the stories and events take.

Writer/Director Owen Kingston
Producers Eleanor Russo
Edward Andrews
Owen Kingston

Cast
Squadron Leader James Muir Edward Andrews
Douglas Remmington-Hobbs Peter Dewhurst
Flight Officer Elsie Harvey Zoe Flint
Captain Alan Howard, RN Owen Kingston
Major Timothy Smyth Christopher Styles
Reverend William Sinclair Ed Cartwright
Peggy Beth Whitaker

For King and Country: 1940 and For King and Country: 1944
The COLAB Factory, 74 Long Lane, London, SE1 4AU
Saturday 23rd February – Sunday 28th April 2019

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