Peaky Blinders: The Rise

Stables Market, Camden


Steven Knight's arresting vision for his tale of working class Birmingham gangsters was a combination of stylised violence, memorable characters, and grinding rock music.

Flat caps off to director Tom Maller that this immersive theatre experience channels something of the series' anarchic, punk energy - with the added bonus of being amongst the smoky, sweary atmosphere of intrigue and mayhem.

Taking over the cobblestones of Stables Market's former horse hospital - with sets in the former stalls - I was half expecting Craig Hamilton's Tommy Shelby to enter astride a nag. In the event, it was to a pumping Nick Cave track, a shower of sparks and a speech about how it's time for the family to grab the London market of dodgy bookies and liquor runs to Prohibition America.

Hamilton's not Cillian Murphy, no-one could be, but he and Emma Stansfield's Aunt Polly make a decent fist of commanding this Shelby family gathering.

Smoothing their entry in the capital is Camden Town baker Alfie Solomons (Sam Blythe with a nice line in mordant humour) who greets us at the warehouse door to interrogate our cover story.

Yes, we are bakers, and after ticking off some rules, "No f***ing fighting," we're invited into The Garrison for a drink, to sing happy birthday to Polly's long lost son Michael who is joining the family business, and enjoy the first of many live songs. We're given folding money to buy our way into a club, place a bet, or offer a bribe. This paranoid world of bomb threats, rival gangs and ducking the law lends itself to the interactive experience, as the audience are sent on tasks to find a safe, inform on a rat, or pass on a message.

Smaller groups are invited into Tommy's office, or the Eden Club, hangout of rival gang the Sabinis (this is Season Two - 1921)

Based on original scripts, Katie Lyons' dialogue sounds pretty authentic, but like all immersive theatre, your journey is individual - I missed about a third of it, including the women's stories of Grace, Polly and Lizzie, but spent time with Michael and shell-shocked self-medicating Arthur (Kieran Mortell)

Luckily we all come back together for a big fight, a raucous dance, and a last drink in The Garrison. Blinding.

Peaky Blinders The Rise runs until further notice at The Garrison, Stables Market.