Lamplighters, VAULT Festival

by guest critic Joanna Trainor

There’s a mole in the secret service.

Neil Connolly is spymaster James Sneezy, and he’s gathered us all to find out who the double agent is. It won’t be easy for the audience though; there are high levels of security to get through, cryptic communications to decipher and definitely no running.

Lamplighters is an homage to the spy novels of John Le Carré, but less tense and a lot funnier than the Gary Oldman Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy film. The success of the show relies heavily on an audience that wants to get stuck in. Lamplighters may market itself as interactive but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll always get willing participants. Connolly gets the best out of his new MI5 recruits by making it clear that he won’t be picking on people, rather asking for volunteers. His warmth means plenty of people want to play along.

It’s obvious that Connolly’s background is in immersive theatre and games because he strikes that perfect balance between making audience members feel comfortable enough to come up on stage, and taking the mick if things go wrong. Lamplighters isn’t too plot heavy, but Connolly’s storytelling and the atmosphere in the room makes an hour well spent.

Connolly finishing by telling us to “read more” does feel preachy, but Lamplighters is a proper good laugh. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday evening and I reckon an Edfringe audience would eat it up.

Lamplighters runs through 4 February.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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