'The Situation Room' review or 'Risk. Only riskier.'

'The Situation Room', Oscar Mike
Shoreditch Town Hall, Wednesday 10th April 2013
Written for Time Out 


You, the public, decide.

How many times have we heard that in the last few years? These days, tomorrow's singers, dancers and second-rate celebrities are all determined by a voting public. But what if that freedom of choice was extended into dangerous terrain? What if it were down to us to determine the outcome of a bitter war?

Theatre company Oscar Mike has taken the public’s lust for decision making to its bloodiest extreme with its immersive show ‘The Situation Room’. It is 1961 and we are led into a damp and moodily lit room, blindfolds at the ready.

The audience is split into two groups. The ‘blue’ side is led by Central Intelligence agent, Benjamin Stokeley (Simon Carroll-Jones), a man so stressed he looks permanently on the verge of tears. On the red side is Russian ambassador Andrey Budka, played with quiet intent by Robert Macpherson. Both sides are determined to take over the oil-rich Middle Eastern region, Al-Khadra, and they need our advice to make that happen.

There is an awful lot to take in here and one spends a lot of time desperately sifting through facts. With a blackboard mapping out the battlefield, this show can feel like a lecture. But there are still some brilliantly tense moments, when the clock is set ticking and we are forced to make some deadly decisions: do we napalm a village in order to prevent a city being nuked? The terrifying thought creeps into one's head: ‘I must win at all costs’.