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Review: Crisis? What Crisis? at New Diorama Theatre

Play set in the Labour Party’s HQ in 1979 is immersive theatre at its best

06 August, 2021 — By Lucy Popescu

Crisis? What Crisis? Photo: Alex Brenner

WE pick up our tickets (Labour membership cards) from New Diorama Theatre before being led to a nearby office space that has been transformed into the Labour Party’s HQ in 1979. It is thrumming with activity and tension.

Jim Callaghan’s government has no working majority. Parliament is deadlocked. Inflation is rising and the workers are demanding a pay rise. We are aware that our advice could avert a national catastrophe.

The attention to detail in Crisis? What Crisis?, written by Tom Black and directed by Owen Kingston, is superb.

Flares and tweed skirts raise a smile, while orange armchairs compete with leather sofas in the fashion/comfort stakes. There’s even a makeshift bar offering wine and beer for us and endless cups of tea for the cast.

Crucial information is conveyed by telephone, opposition leader, Margaret Thatcher appears to be on a continuous loop on TV, Tony Benn is stuck in New York and I never thought I’d find watching a fax arrive so fascinating.

This is immersive theatre at its best. We are called upon to help a government in crisis and most audience members, many of whom weren’t even born in 1979, jumped at the chance. We need to ensure they don’t lose the vote of no confidence proposed by Mrs Thatcher.

The cast is impeccable and the acting is so good it is hard to tell participants and performers apart.

The angry union rep was particularly convincing – I quaked at the invitation to offer him some milk for his tea.

It’s a long evening, but you can be involved as much as you want to be and can sit out at any time. The breakout rooms are divided into planners, thinkers, media etc.

Approach with energy and a sense of fun and you won’t be disappointed. And don’t be surprised if sending a fax feels like one of the most exciting things you’ve done all year.

Until August 28
020 7383 9034

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