Theatre review: Nuclear Family

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The audience are the real stars of this innovative piece of interactive theatre based on what purport to be recordings from the control room of the Ashdown nuclear power plant on the night of “the disaster” of 1996.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)

They are asked to study “footage” of siblings Joe and Ellen Lynam (Adam Devereux and Eva O’Connor, who also scripted) as they deal with – initially – a simple choice that eventually has catastrophic consequences.

At various intervals the audience are given files, emails and even audio logs on iPods to study and afterwards share the information with each other in a bid to come to a majority decision so we can decide whether the Lynams did all they could to try and prevent the incident.

In many ways it’s like a live storytelling videogame like Gone Home or Telltale’s Walking Dead series but with a vital social component – this wouldn’t work if you’re shy and don’t argue your case based on the evidence you study (everyone gets different pieces of the puzzle). So while onstage gets increasingly reminiscent of The China Syndrome the audience starts acting a bit like Twelve Angry Men – the choices get much tougher as the situation escalates and aren’t simply binary either.

Like many storytelling videogames you can’t change the ending (this is a disaster, remember) but the mix of social interaction and intellectual engagement make for a gripping experience.

Until 29 August. Today 5:15pm.

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