The Droves

Theatre, Interactive
3 out of 5 stars
1/4
'The Droves' at CoLab Factory
2/4
'The Droves' at CoLab Factory
3/4
'The Droves' at CoLab Factory
4/4
'The Droves' at CoLab Factory

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A satisfyingly bonkers immersive show that's straight from the imaginations of primary school kids

Over the course of three years interactive theatre experts Coney have been working with a group of young people aged 6 to 11 on this immersive show. The result is pleasingly mad, an explosion of imagination and creativity kept in check by director Tom Bowtell. 

In small groups we’re led into the basement of a building, a disused carpet factory, by a group of feral children called ‘The Droves’. They used to be slaves for the owner of the carpet factory, but broke free. Now, however, they’re on the brink of dying out and are having to invite adults into their world in order to donate their ‘bits’ and so create more Drove children (let’s not think to deeply about that element of the plot).
 
This is far and away not the worst immersive show there’s been, and in our small groups we’re left to puzzle out some fun, 'Crystal Maze'-style riddles and challenges. The children, who have designed this piece as well as creating it, conjure a creepy world of subterranean darkness, rotting Christmas trees, spooky hooded figures and great big sets made out of carpet. On top of that, the sound of screaming children and other eerie noises are piped constantly all around this dungeon. It’s pretty cool. 
 
There are also some bizarrely profound moments, like when we’re asked to sew a child into a carpet in order to let her sleep forever, or when we have to put a gorilla to bed. Sometimes the instructions and the rules of the place are unclear, but we always get there in the end.
 
All of the performers are great, fully committing to their characters and clearly taking pride in their work. In fact, they clearly enjoy having a go at the adults more than the adults enjoy being shouted at by children, but that's how it should be to be honest. Because, more than anything, the show is about them: the three year process, the progress from concept to performance, and the distillation of two and a half years’ worth of young people’s strange imaginings into this gleeful piece.

For more adventurous, interactive shows, check out our list of Immersive Theatre in London

By: Tim Bano

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