Time for some magic. I want you all to sit back and relax. Now name three people you can think of from World War II – but not anyone related to your family. Think hard about them. OK. I’m going to make a prediction. Everyone you are thinking of have three things in common: One, they are men. Two, they are white and three, they are English/American. Because those were the only people that took part and won the Second World War weren’t they? We all know, that in reality millions from all walks of life were involved in the war. Quite a lot will have fitted the stereotype above, but a significant number didn’t. All have a story to tell and some of these stories are truly amazing and can be discovered in the immersive show Hidden Figures: WW2 at the Colab Factory.
This really is an immersive production which starts well before you arrive at the location. The instructions you receive are comprehensive and highly secret – I’m facing a potential prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for telling you as much as I am. However, once you arrive and get through the various stages to ensure you are not some form of foreign agent and get into the Mess, you then find out who you are going to be for the rest of the evening, Read all of your character’s documentation thoroughly – you will need to know who you are – before you are taken off to enter the shadowy world of the SOE.
Obviously, I can’t tell you too much about what happens from now on but what I can say is that playwright Paul King has put together an extremely well researched and written experience that delves into some amazing real-life stories whilst providing an entertaining evening for the participants. One of the first things I did on getting home was to ‘google’ my character, and their story was fascinating. I would definitely recommend you do the same, There is nothing ordinary about these people and each is truly amazing in their own right.
So, Paul has a list of people with extraordinary tales to tell of their lives and, with Director Zoe Flint, has put together a highly entertaining scenario in which to tell them. Along with a very impressive group of actors and a wonderfully detailed set in which to move. The – for want of a better word ‘participants’ – are guided through some pretty intensive moments as they complete their training and, hopefully, return to the Mess for their final reward.
Thinking about Hidden Figures: WW2 and this was such an easy show to review. My companion on the night, who is not renowned for getting over-excited at shows, said “so that’s 5 stars then?” as soon as we started discussing the experience. I have to agree with him. The production works on every level. It’s like Paul and his team have taken the BBC’s mission statement “inform, educate and entertain” and made their personal mantra when putting Hidden Figures: WW2 together. There isn’t much more that I can say about the show other than to recommend that you get your act together and answer your country’s call at this hour of need by getting a ticket as soon as possible.
Review by Terry Eastham
Share a password with our agent to break into our 1940s Military Bar and choose your secret wartime role. Then delve into our underground bunker and uncover your character’s identity whilst un-ravelling the history of some of the most fantastic, unsung heroes of WW2 over a free drink. Do well and we’ll treat you to sabrage from our Prosecco Bar, fail to reach the mark and you’ll still be peeling spuds as our agents jump into France…
Pick between real, diversity-focused characters from history and uncover your individual story through the night. All served with distinction during the war and will be revealed to you, clue by clue, whilst navigating our underground storytelling maze by our troop of immersive actors.
They’ll test your teamwork, engage you in intimate, one on one performances and run you through a series of puzzles to see if you possess the skills and nerve to deliver 1940s Europe from the dark grip of occupation.
Krystyna Skarbeck – Georgina Hutchingson
Lillian West – Amelia Stephenson
Ronald Hargreaves – Sandy Murray
Alan Turing – Christopher Styles
Maxwell Knight – Angus Woodward
Director – Zoe Flint
Artistic Director of Bacchanalia Theatre
Producer – Paul King
Creative Director of PartyGeek
Without the help, guidance and repeated patience of Owen Kingston (Parabolic Theatre), this production would not have been possible.
Special thanks to Bertie Watkins (COLAB Factory and Theatre) who has offered a huge amount of support, Clair and Gerald King and former cast and crew members Paul Collins-Thomas, Laura Davey, Clare Buckingham, David Houston, Carmen Flynn, Charles Ohanwe, Kieton Saunders-Browne, Beth Yorath, Garry Wilson, Fiona Sagar, Peter Twose, Brooklyn Barber, Aaron Mackenzie, Nicola Lamont, Brooklyn Barber and Adrian Wheeler .