The Swell Mob @ Assembly George Square Studios

Flabbergast Theatre's performance is an immersive delve into a world long gone where the right questions will get the right answers

Review by Clare Sinclair | 23 Aug 2018
  • The Swell Mob

Walking into the underground hall at Assembly for The Swell Mob, a bemused crowd of Festival-goers are plunged into an 1830s taproom; a motley crew of characters await them, ready to peddle their wares or tell them a tale. Flabbergast Theatre's performance is an immersive delve into a world long gone where the right questions will get the right answers.

You're encouraged to interact with any and all of the roaming cast. When you do you'll often hear their story of how they came to be there, snippets of these stories hinting at a bigger backstory to be uncovered. Some of the characters appear on stage with typically Vaudevillian acts but the real magic lies in speaking to them as they go about their evening.

The devotion to the time period is commendable and Flabbergast Theatre have really committed to the performance. Fights break out mid-conversation, two young girls fight and accuse each other of thievery and a mysterious bell rings regularly in the background, making the characters act even more strangely. The bar staff even get in on the action, sliding tankards of beer down the bar at the punters. The audience are encouraged to get into the spirit of things: they're given special Swell Mob pounds, enticed to gamble it all away and borrow even more and it's clear as the audience speak to one another through the hour that there are clues hidden around the room.

While this isn't a comfortable hour of sitting and watching the action unfold in front of you, The Swell Mob is made all the better for its immersive nature. You will only get as much out of it as you put in, and every person there will experience something different. Seeing it once was wonderful, repeating the experience would be even better.


The Swell Mob, Assembly George Square Studios, until 26 Aug, times vary, £13-£11

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