CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp London Review
Lamplighters

"John Doe died of heat exhaustion and tragic footwear." — George Sneezy
Lamplighters
Neil Comnnolly as George Sneezy (Photo: Matthew Kaltenborn)
John Le Carré the novelist used the term "Lamplighters" to refer to the unit that provided reconnaissance, surveillance and couriers for the British Secret Service. Inspired by Le Carré's novels, Irish actor and improviser, Neil Connolly is hosting an evening of interactive, immersive theatre with the help of his audience casting them as characters, from cleaners to spy handlers.

Now the first thing that The Old Red Lion pub theatre gets right, presumably tipped off by MI6 from their experiences in Arabia, is to hire the iciest air conditioning in all of London Theatreland. The cool air which creates a mist of foggy London streets, without any of the pollution, makes The Old Red Lion Theatre the most brilliant place to be in the middle of a heatwave and this alone is worth the price of a ticket.

Whereas the air conditioning relaxes you, the narrative will create fun filled tension and mock suspense as we witness the death of John Doe (an audience member) and try to identify in 60 minutes who might be "the mole", the traitor who has betrayed one of our operatives in the field. We will try to get past five levels of increasingly difficult spotlight security, from security men with torches to the full Mission Impossible heist scenario. Helping Neil Connolly as George Sneezy in his quest, are volunteers from the audience who contribute to the silliness with well timed chords from musical instruments attempting to imitate a "film noir" jazzy sound on children's toy instruments!

As I write this, not far from the village of Sarratt where John Le Carré placed his fictional spy school in the idyllic English village, with its pretty village green and three pubs, "The Cricketers", "The Boot" and the one I haven't visited "The Cock". In 1949 when Le Carré was 18, he briefly worked in a drapers shop, Clements, in Watford High Street. They called it "the Harrods of Hertfordshire" ignoring the fact that Harrods was never in the real elite of retailers because the owner wasn't a member of the Drapers' City Livery Company.

Connolly will ask for random suggestions from the audience for turns in the plot and incorporate these into his maybe increasingly bizarre narrative. Others will be given tasks and all are volunteers. No shy person will be forced to take part or be the butt of jokes. There is much to laugh at with the quick witted audience quips and their skilled "spymaster". Connolly has that native Irish charm and apologises for his Oxbridge accent as George Sneezy by claiming that it is his revenge on all those English people who have badly attempted the Irish brogue!

Rogue Productions with its tag line Modern audiences want to play, not watch was founded by Dean Rodgers who has experience in the escape game entertainment business and was creative director of The Crystal Maze Experience. This show won a People's Choice Award at the Vault Festival and leaves a smile on everyone's face. The success of the spy genre parody Lamplighters hinges on the special skill of Neil Connolly and his comedy experience. A refreshingly cool night out not to be missed!





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PRODUCTION NOTES
Lamplighters
Written by Neil Connolly and Dean Rodgers
Directed by Dean Rodgers
Starring: Neil Connolly
Set Design: Doug Mackie
Lighting Design: Saulius Vaulinas
Running time: One hours 05 minutes with no interval
Box Office: 0333 012 4963
Booking to 18th August 2018 Tuesdays to Saturdays
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 26th July 2018 performance at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1 4NJ (Tube: The Angel)
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