CoLab Tavern, London – until 22 March 2022
One thing that I have really, really missed over the last two years is just good plain fun. Fun without meaning, without agenda, without malice.
This is what Viper Squad has in spades. Yes, you still wear a mask – the pandemic isn’t actually fully over despite governmental wishful thinking. But you also dress in your best 80s garb. I had a pinky-purple wig, a striped power suit and a Frankie Says Relax T-Shirt (and the embarrassing part is, I didn’t buy anything new!).
You arrive at O’Malley’s Genuine Irish Pub where you listen to current hits from Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, Madonna and meet your contact. He will brief you and get you into the squad. From there, you will take part in a number of different highly interactive and immersive missions to push the action along.
This show is – perhaps – a little lighter than some other things I have seen done at the Colab venue, but it shares certain important traits. We ran the show. As an audience, you felt empowered to act and think for yourself while you were shepherded where you needed to be for maximal enjoyment.
What is at the heart of Viper Squad is a sense of playfulness that I have missed so much about the best of immersive theatre. It is in playing with the cast and each other that the audience lost themselves in the action and found something that for me had felt too long lost.
Viper Squad is an incredibly fun night out. Its cast are all superb and work entirely with you to ensure that you are comfortable – or, if it’s what you want, comfortably challenged. They are superbly responsive to even the audiences craziest suggestions, giving a real sense of people who are at once committed to their characters and your good time.
That can be a tough balancing act in immersive theatre. It never seems to be at Colab. The thought and care put into the work they host (this is by a new company called Schematic Theatre) are sublime. It never runs on wheels – that’s not their style. But it is so slick, you almost think it has.