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The Situation Room (Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Meeting on a damp dark street in rainy Salford is an interesting way to start off a journey into The Situation Room.  Enter a chilly corridor and be greeted by Simon Carroll-Jones and Robert MacPherson; cast members who while mingling with the audience have a couple of questions to ask. "Whiskey or Vodka’?  Raspberries or blueberries?"  The answers given allow the men to separate the audience in to two groups ready to be taken in to the room where the action really begins.

This is immersive theatre at its very best. Without wanting to give too much away the piece is moved along in any given direction based on the decisions made by individuals and each sub group in response to questions asked by the two characters who themselves transform while the audience are making some decisions about competitiveness and co-operation to get the ball rolling.

The action all takes place against a cold war type backdrop. The game is war but are you willing to make tough decisions? With a representative from each nation guiding and shaping the plans are you able to make a judgement call along with your co-conspirators? There are a number of decisions the audience are required to make which shape the direction the piece takes and ultimately decides on the outcome.  

Carroll-Jones and MacPherson are engaging and expressive as their respective political characters and between them build the tension effectively and this is helped immensely by the soundtrack (Oliver Soames) and the fairly minimal set with harsh glaring spotlights. Mimicking each other’s movements and each delivering impassioned speeches and reasoned arguments for their proposals; the pair are key to making this piece work as they encourage the audience to participate without being patronising or turning it in to a pantomime.

Who knows what the outcome may be if you wrap up warm and venture in to the Situation Room? With the potential for a number of different outcomes, get yourself down there ready to affect the end game and see how the game of war can be turned on a pin head all by the power and persuasion of you; the audience.

Stirring, involving and highly original.

- Ruth Lovett


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