Pros: Strong acting, complete with hilariously Churchillian accents.
Cons: It was a little difficult to understand what was supposed to be happening in parts.
Being handed a glass of wine that is full to the brim is always an enjoyable way to start an evening. The cast of For King and Country welcomed us into the very British bunker with plenty of booze and great gusto, all in absolute character and never wavering for a second. The acerbic MP Douglas Remington-Hobbs explained that we, the audience, had been nominated as designated survivors in 1940 wartime Britain. Should anything befall Prime Minister Halifax, it would be our responsibility to make the decisions that would shape the future of the war. Lo and behold, we instantly received a call explaining that a bomb had been detonated over parliament. The PM and MPs had all been either slain or incapacitated. The fate of the war now rested in the bunker, in our trembling hands.
The most enjoyable aspect of For King and Country is that the audience gets to make the decisions. Remington-Hobbs, acting as the Speaker, provided us with lots of backdrop to the seemingly impossible choices we had to make, expertly answering every question without pause. The issues were hotly debated in the makeshift parliament after we had elected our own Cabinet, each being put to a vote following intense political scrutiny. Should the King be transplanted to Balmoral for his safety, or remain in London with his people? Which is the more pressing concern, air raid attacks or the Nazi’s encroaching Panzer tanks? There were also several fun activities that we needed to complete, such as writing a heartfelt address to the nation, with hilarity ensuing.
Unfortunately, however, I doubt all members of the audience felt as immersed as others. Some very vocal participants were allowed to totally dominate both the activities and the parliamentary debates, and this was only half controlled by the actors. It didn’t seem that everyone was completely included, with the actors leaving the audience to our own devices once or twice. This potentially contributed to the increasing confusion over the plot. Towards the end I was unsure where we were up to, feeling a little confused about whether we were winning or losing the war. The big twist at the finale fell a little flat due to a lack of nods towards it from the cast throughout the experience. A few well-placed red herrings would have heightened the drama and made it a more thought-provoking experience.
On the whole though, this is a romping and rollicking jolly good time, with plenty of raucous laughter ringing through the bunker all night. Costumes and accents were spot on, and a huge effort had been made to create authenticity in terms of props and setting. While the bunker began to feel a little samey after a while, that is unsurprising in a bunker, so the setting contributed to the atmosphere nicely. I would say reduce the size of the audience slightly (and possibly the price of the tickets!) and this would be a smashing piece of theatre. Rather!
Writer/Director: Owen Kingston
Producers: Eleanor Russo, Edward Andrews, Owen Kingston
Booking Until: 10 June 2018
Booking Link: https://www.forkingandcountry.london/