Bertie Watkins and Colab Theatre’s immersive production is full of plots and plunders alike. With twists and turns round every corner, the company are fully engaging from the first entrance into the saloon. With a 50s/60s playlist of lilting Western tunes greeting you, the welcome into the world of ‘Overtown’ is a very warm one – despite the sandstorm that has left the town in ruins and in need of some help from the lively passers-through who happened to have survived the elements! 

Written by Watkins, Ben Chamberlain, Charlotte Potter and The Company, the collaborative experience takes us on a journey of betrayal and revenge. From the seemingly innocent confessions with the village pastor played by Sam Skoog, every foot forward through the promenade layout sews another seed of doubt within the never-ending mystery. The small regenerative town is overseen by the pastor’s parents, Mayor Adelaide Olver played by Grace Dunne and Sheriff Hank Olver played by Owen Jenkins – a very eccentric bunch. 

The interactive tasks and games to follow create a full-bodied narrative with something for everyone. Accompanied by both an outdoor and indoor Wild West saloon bar with specially curated liquor to suit, the company have given a lot of attention to detail to encourage involvement in the world of the piece. The pre-show email offers further ideas on outfit/costume to help jump straight into the action and get into the mood of the piece. 

The company have done a commendable job in keeping the style fresh from their previous show Crookes 1926, which ran in the same venue for 2 years. The design by COLAB Theatrics gives a very different hazy hue creating an entirely different world of espionage compared to the previous grunge of gangster territorial warfare. Yet the company maintain an exciting drive, Skoog’s post-interval energy is perfectly placed to bring us back in the room after a show-themed cocktail and back in the mindset with a high-octane task at hand. 

The Judge played by Chris Keegan is a delight with their quick-witted banter as they keep the jury on the straight and narrow. Keegan is thoroughly enjoyable as they hurry the slurred rowdiness of the intoxicated audience. Similarly, Skoog finds some fun in teasing their defence, another audience member joining in the fun and games to further the narrative and giving the show a unique atmosphere in the perfect location of the Colab Tavern. 


It runs until 1 October.


Review: Sebastian Calver