Crisis? What Crisis?
By Tom Black.
The Colab Factory, 24-84 Long Lane, London SE1 4AU to 8 December 2019.
Performances 7.30pm – check with websites.
Runs 2h3 30 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 07599 83570
Review: William Russell 12 November.
Immersive theatre can be great fun and dealing with the events of the 1978-79 winter of discontent which ended with the collapse of the Callaghan government proves a splendid subject. The audience becomes the various arms of Government trying to deal with the strikes, the economic problems and the need to win the vote of no confidence in the Commons. The title is, of course, invariable attributed to James Callaghan who returned from a trip to the Caribbean and adopted a cheerful response to what was going on. The Sun conjured up the headline – Crisis? What Crisis? – words he did not utter but which hung round his neck ever after. Some of the fun is watching who in the audience emerges to take control, who sits back. There is always a bossy boots who knows best for a start. Then there is the one who is rash and will dare anything. On press night the Government did some startling things to raise cash to buy off the striking unions, including selling of the Falklands and Gibraltar and gave in to the union demands with alacrity. Just why the political element was wondering whether the Government could be save if Ken Clarke abstained in the No confidence vote is a mystery, as was the decision to cut the tax on cigarettes – possibly to placate the smoking working classes of the day. The cast run the various departments presumably as the minister in charge, but the decisions are taken by the civil servants. It all gets a bit confusing and whether the result on press night showed what artistic director Own Kingston said – a lot of people think they can do a better job than the politicians – is actually the case is highly questionable. But by doing some amazing, and frankly unlikely, things this audience saved the day for Sunny Jim although one has to say that nowhere did one hear any mention of the Scots Nats whose decision to support the no confidence motion played a crucial role. Is it more timely than ever given the Brexit crisis? Chances are that audience decision makers might come up with some daring solutions. As immersive theatre goes this is a thoroughly enjoyable affair; as audience watching it is just as much fun as it is watching the decisions taken. There is also a bar for a little light relief and on a television set some glorious colour shots of Mrs Thatcher having a round table discussion with political journalists of the time and treating them like recalcitrant children with charm, face wreathed in motherly smiles, bending her head to the left as she swatted them. They really don’t make them like her anymore; nor like Sunny Jim. Parabolic theatre deserves a confidence vote in favour of this provocative and very funny event, and writer Tom Black for assembling the material and running the show.
Cast: Tom Black.
Beth Jay, Zoe Flint, Angus Woodward, Jaya Baldwin, Christopher Styles, Chloe Mashiter.
Director: Owen Kingston.
Production photographs:Russell Cobb.
Crisis? What Crisis? by Tom Black. Colab Factory, 74-84 Long Lane, London SE1 to 8 December 2019. 4****. William Russell.