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The Droves review at CoLab Factory, London – ‘interactive theatre designed by children’

Scene from The Droves at CoLab Factory, London

An interactive theatre experience for adults, designed and performed by kids. What could go wrong?

Surprisingly little, in fact, in Coney’s part escape-room, part immersive event The Droves, a project that’s been in development since 2015 and that’s been workshopped with over 600 six-to-11 year-olds from across Tower Hamlets.

Director Tom Bowtell has let the kids’ imaginations run riot. They’re in charge of everything, from the storyline to the set-building. Don’t expect coherent narratives and socio-political comments – but there are wacky costumes, weird creatures, and angry gorillas.

You start out in a cardboard fort, being shouted at by small people. “What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?! What is the kindest thing you’ve ever done?! Sing me a song! Shut up, I’ve heard enough!”

Then, you are ushered through a series of rooms and challenges. Solve a riddle in a dingy maze of Christmas trees. Free a young girl stuck in a carpet. Soothe an irate ape.

CoLab Factory’s subterranean rooms are atmospherically dressed up, there’s spooky sound design, and the young performers all do themselves proud.

It’s not a revelatory piece of immersive theatre by any means, but there’s magic and madcap fun to be had in roaming the wilds of an eight year-old’s imagination.

In truth this is a show that’s more about the process than the performance, about the actors than the audience – and it’s heartening to know that so many children have been exposed to the variety and vibrancy of theatre at such a young age.

Verdict
A smile-inducing piece of immersive theatre designed and performed by kids

Production

Production
The Droves
Venue
CoLab Factory
Starts
February 17, 2018
Ends
February 24, 2018
Press night
February 18, 2018
Authors
Tom Bowtell
Director
Tom Bowtell
Design
Kirsty Harris
Sound
Dinah Mullen
Cast includes
The Droves Young Company
Producer
Coney
Running time
1hr