The Swell Mob at Colab Factory Theatre
Flabbergast Theatre combine a seedy underworld with phenomenal acting and hyper-realistic sets to bring the world of The Swell Mob to life in this interactive theatrical experience. From the moment we enter The Colab Factory the performance begins, with each attendee being given a set of old coins to use to pay or barter their way through the show – the currency can be exchanged for secrets, ruses and even tickets to the boxing match. As the night unwinds, the stakes are raised by a mysterious presence that seems to control those who inhibit the Swell Mob. Will the audience be able to save them from their master’s clutches?
No doubt, the encounter is different each time as participants move around independently to gather clues, uncover secrets, locate mysterious contracts and help those who need it most. The result is a wildly entertaining, escape-room-esque affair that leaves the room reeling. Though the production received rave reviews at Edinburgh Fringe, it is still in relative infancy and perhaps in the future will benefit from smaller audiences or a longer running time to ensure no stones go unturned. Nevertheless, the show is truly immersive – a feat that is surprisingly not always achieved in immersive theatre – with spectators seemingly having a real impact on the way in which the evening pans out.
Credit must be given to the ensemble cast, who remain in character throughout, not only when telling the story but whilst establishing relationships with those in attendance. What’s more, the piece occasionally stems into performances independent from the audience interaction – such as the phenomenally choreographed boxing match between two of the characters (remember to place your bets; it may serve you well), which allow the progression of a narrative that could otherwise become somewhat muddied.
The Swell Mob succeeds in creating a world so dense that audience members may perhaps feel the urge to return once more to the dark depths of the bar, desperate to uncover more secrets, more stories – or perhaps just to pet the dog again. In short, it’s an expertly crafted show that is equal parts twisted and thrilling.
Photo: Jordan Chandler
The Swell Mob is at Colab Factory Theatre from 4th May until 25th August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for The Swell Mob here: