Exit Productions was a new name but, with clear connections to CoLab theatre, it didn’t take much to persuade me to head down to Borough and play their first experience, Revolution. I really didn’t do much research – the hexagonal grid poster, references to Settlers of Catan/Diplomacy/Risk and the promise of an immersive theatre angle had me intrigued. I wasn’t 100% confident, though; a small part of me was still nervous that I might be just paying to play a board game. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.
After a chance to grab a drink at the bar, it was downstairs to the game itself. This experience should come with a warning: you’ll be split into one of three factions right from the start, so you may end up playing solo even if you arrived with a group. Usually I’m against that happening because it turns a fun evening out with friends into a not-so-fun evening out with strangers. In this game, however, being friends with everyone on your team would be a big advantage and, to be honest, the premise of the game works better if you’re a random rabble of people trying to form a coherent strategy. Each faction had a particular theme and, while we were free to choose what to do, all the teams naturally settled into their “personas” and formed their strategies accordingly. The way they split the teams also created a sense of complicity between teammates right from the start.
So what is the premise of the game? Well, there’s been a revolution and the government is falling. You’re one of three factions that have mustered enough support to try to take control of the capital. Your goal is to take over strategic boroughs by the end of the game and form a new government. At the base level, that’s done in a very Risk-like way, but there are layers on top where you have to complete separate missions that add politics and creativity on top of the core strategy. Along the way you’ll need to forge alliances with the other factions while being vigilant for signs of betrayal.
I’ve tried to come up with a way of categorising the game but I’ve failed miserably. It’s most definitely gaming theatre, but it’s also kind of a souped-up board game with creative challenges, a bit of political debate and, to some extent, commentary, with a dose of diplomacy and, at times, espionage heaped on top.
The beauty of the experience was that you could make of it what you wanted. If you’re a strategist, then you can gravitate towards the board game side of the experience. If you’re an orator, then you’ll get your chance to stand in front of the crowds and argue your points. If you’re an artist or a wordsmith, then your time will come. If you’re the negotiator, then there’ll be plenty of opportunities to use your skills. I could go on – our group of eight probably took twenty distinct roles during the evening. I find it hard to imagine anyone failing to find options that appeal to them (with the exception of those people for whom a night out with a bunch of strangers doesn’t appeal).
If you want a great night out, then head down to Borough. It’s time for Revolution.
It was a nice day, so we grabbed takeaway beforehand from Wok-it in Borough Market and sat next to Southwark cathedral looking out over the Thames. It’s expensive for what it is, but it’s made to order and, if you’re willing to pay the price, it’s great quality.