All The King’s Men (Living Record Festival, online)

The Princess and the Peas may be a big music act, but there’s danger and skullduggery afoot in Chronic Insanity‘s latest interactive piece.

Some elements – an interactive system page, ‘live’ video, a friend who may not be that they seem – will be familiar if you have engaged with the company’s work before.

Some is new, and to be honest, I needed additional help to progress from a staff site which had abundant clues but caused quite a lot of frustration.

International politics, imprisonment and espionage are the order of the day here – and matters are complicated by false endings and unfinished business.

Screenshot from All The King's Men

For me, this show doesn’t have enough interactivity for an audience member. Flavour Text is more to my taste, and to be honest, felt more under my control.

There is tension and danger in All The King’s Men but it felt as if there was no real reason for me to get involved other than to get to the end.

I think my main issue with this show, well-produced though it was, was that I never really believed in any part of it. But the joy of theatre is, although this one wasn’t for me, it might be right up your street.

The level of detail within this production is excellent: from the fansite and music tracks, the staff portal (which is within a real one), the emails.

Joe Strickland in All The King's Men

Looking at what Chronic Insanity have set out to produce, which is purely digital work which challenges the boundaries of theatre, they have achieved a great deal in their 12×12 series of shows over the past two years.

Not only have they subverted what we accept as live performance, but they have also found a niche where no one else is operating in quite the same way. I can’t wait to see where their invention takes them next.

The only similar production company I can think of is CtrlAltRepeat with their Viper Squad livestream via Zoom, which uses audiences to detect clues and make decisions. It’s a different approach, but each gives those watching a chance to feel they are participating.

All The King’s Men is part of the Living Record Festival 2022. Find out more about Chronic Insanity here.