REVIEW: DEATH OF THE KING – An Immersive Punk Murder Mystery (COLAB Factory) ★★★★

Death of the King

Immersive Theatre company ImmerCity‘s latest show is an immersive punk murder mystery, Death of the King, being held at an abandoned rug factory (CoLab Factory) near London Bridge.

As the only survivor of an 80’s punk rock band, Jack takes the Investigative Journalists (that would be us, the audience) back to that fateful night; the last time Rusty was seen alive.

When he disappeared in 1983, no one cared. A washed up punk, living in an abandoned warehouse with other drug addicts, spending their day in sex, drugs and rock n roll binges. He certainly wasn’t at the top of the police’s list of missing persons investigations. But 33 years later, his body has been exhumed and Jack (as the only living survivor) is under investigation by the police. He was at the party that night but he has no recollection of what happened. Jack seeks the help of the journalists to go back to that fateful night in 1983 and watch the ghosts retell their story in the hope of being able to put the pieces together and tell him what really happened.

In the first half of the show, the audience of around twenty people witness a reenactment of that fateful night back in 1983. Then, after the interval, we get transported back in time to just before the event, to explore the rooms in the squat and ask questions to each of the punks. The second half was definitely more seamless than the first. The actors were much better at improvising with small groups of people than delivering lines of dialogue that had been learned. It all felt a bit clunky and was hard to hear what was going on because of the screaming scenes taking place just behind a curtain divider.

We were encouraged to look around the rooms (if we could get the punks to let us) and so I was surprised to find a business card laying on one of the bedside tables with a mobile phone number and email address on. Suz, the occupier of the bedroom said she had never seen it before and so I assumed someone in the audience had put it there as a joke (as I don’t think mobile phones and email were very popular back in 1983). It surprised me to see, when we went back to visit her later on, that the business card was still sitting there and hadn’t been swiped by her when we left the room so as not to taint the set.

Death of the King is certainly not for the faint hearted or easily afraid. Expect actors screaming in your face, fighting around you and being very confrontational, if you aren’t prepared to jump in to this immersive experience with both feet then this may not be the show for you (no one can be a wallflower in this production). If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right answers and if you’re too shy then you will be picked on!

At nearly three hours long, Death of the King could have done with being half the length and making the plot simpler. There were so many different stories being told that it was hard to put together what the truth was (the point of a murder mystery I know). We managed to solve the crime (hooray) but we were helped out along the way and so I was hoping there would be a huge twist at the end to make the show end with a bang instead of just a “you’ve solved the crime, thanks for coming”.

All that said, I had a great night and I would recommend this if you fancy a good fun night out and aren’t of too much of a nervous disposition. At just £19.50 per ticket, this is a bargain for an immersive experience. Not the best out there and a little chaotically organised but for the price it is well worth it.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

Death of the King – An Immersive Punk Murder Mystery plays at The CoLab Factory until 4 June 2017

Age: Recommended for age 18+
Contains strong language, references to sex, violence, and drugs.