Sunday, May 26

1884 – Shoreditch Town Hall

What makes a house a home? What makes a hall a theatre and what makes a game play? Conceived by theatre-maker Rhianna Ilube and brought to life by immersive game-theatre makers Coney, 1884, is a hoot and a half. Split into two parts, the first running around two hours that go by in a flash and the second making less of a second full act than a stunningly complex coda, this experience doesn’t waste a minute of the time it takes from you. Intriguingly complex, Jacob Wu’s set design is as functional as it is whimsical and establishes the playfulness of the environment being curated right from the get-go. Audience members self-select seatings of seven to begin the game and from these small pods communities are born. Each activity is thoughtful, engaging, and accessible. Sound designer, Mwen, and lighting designer, Cheng Keng, each do their part to enhance the experience and their efforts do not go unmarked, so seamless is the blending between immersion and spectacle pulled off by this crew. Performers Jyuddah James, Ewa Dina, and Chusi Amoros, directed by Tatenda Shamiso, do a great deal of heavy lifting in order to make engagement feel effortless for audiences and it does indeed.

All performances are relaxed, and audience members are free to talk, move about the room, exit and re-enter as they please throughout the duration of the event but each activity is so engaging and the pacing so meticulous that there is never a dull moment.

Inspired by the 1884 Berlin Conference but more experiential in its didacticism than pedantic, this work is a marvel of production, both on a technical and an intellectual level. Full of twists and surprises that delight and divert, the core of this show is nonetheless the heart of the small communities formed by its early interventions. Come with friends but don’t sit with them. Allow yourself to settle into the fictional community of Wilhelm Street and make yourself at home.

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 19th April 2024

North West End UK Rating: 4