Lamplighters review at Vaults, London – ‘fun interactive thriller’
About halfway through Lamplighters, Neil Connolly’s interactive homage to the spy thrillers of John Le Carre, something goes seriously wrong. An audience member – our field agent – is tasked with collecting a package from somewhere else in the labyrinthine Vaults.
It’s supposed to take a few minutes, but he goes AWOL and doesn’t come back for about twenty. We’re left twiddling our thumbs, awaiting his return. It speaks volumes about Connolly’s wit and warmth as a performer that this catastrophe doesn’t spoil the evening’s fun.
Put together by Connolly and Dean Rodgers – two stalwarts of the game-theatre, escape-room scene – Lamplighters casts its audience as protagonists in a Cold War caper a la Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. There’s a mole high up in the circus, and together, we’ve got to winkle him out.
You don’t have to participate, but Connolly’s right, it’s more fun if you do. Some audience members are cast as bribe deliverers, some as informants, and some as Stasi agents. One lucky participant gets to dodge glowing red laser beams.
It’s actually structured quite simply and plays out swimmingly well on a sparse stage of leather swivel chairs and park benches. Or rather, it does until our field agent leaves us hanging.
There are two key tests of an interactive theatre production. One, can it adapt to changing circumstances, and two, does it get the audience onside? Lamplighters might have failed the first on the night I saw it, but it passed the second with flying colours.
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