Kieran Mortell plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders: The Rise, opening on 24th June at the Camden Garrison.
Peaky Blinders: The Rise is an immersive theatrical show that places audiences in the heart of one of the world’s most popular TV series. Presented in collaboration with Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and Caryn Mandabach Productions, you are invited to get dressed up and fully immersed in Tommy Shelby’s world. As the story unfolds you will experience live sets, unmissable character interactions, competitive game play and ultimately determine whether Tommy Shelby and his family succeed in their ambition to take London.
Peaky Blinders: The Rise is directed by Tom Maller, who is also Creative Director. Listings and ticket information can be found here.
You’re starring Peaky Blinders: The Rise, what can you tell us about this new immersive show?
This show will bring the amazing world of the popular TV show Peaky Blinders into a live accessible experience for audience. Our story fits into the Peaky Blinders timeline around series 2. If we do our jobs right, it should feel like the audience will physically step into an episode, and be a part of the story.
You can drink a Whisky in the Garrison, plot for Women’s Rights with Ada Thorne, book a meeting to sit down in Tommy’s boardroom, have a flutter on the horses with Arthur & John Shelby, all under the watchful eyes of Alfie Solomons in his Camden Warehouse.
Were you a fan of Peaky Blinders, before being cast, and how well do you think this live action experience captures the TV show?
I only started watching the show about 6 months ago, but as soon as I started I couldn’t stop. For people that haven’t seen it, I think it’s easy to think it’s just about gangs & violence but the storylines and characters are far richer than that.
I think we have done due diligence to both the incredible TV show Steven Knight has created, and also the real people from Britain in 1921. Our show will weave in some highlights from iconic episodes but also we bring some original material that covers returning soldiers from WW1 and a really exciting surprise visitor from America
And what about anyone who hasn’t seen it on TV, can they still come along and enjoy it?
Absolutely. This is an original story being told. The show is part theatre, part game, part escape room, part concert. There is something for everyone. All of the action happens over one night, and you can still impact the story based on what you learn within those 2 hours. You get to decide (as audience) the sort of evening you want to have.
You’re playing Arthur Shelby, what are you enjoying most about portraying such a pivotal character?
Paul Anderson does such an incredible job in the TV show so first & foremost, it’s about trying to pay homage to his amazing work. I can’t escape the fact that audience will want to see that reflected in my performance (including that voice), so I am aiming to do that.
But also bring a bit of my own energy to it too. Arthur is a troubled soul, and we have a section within the show which taps into his PTSD, this is a real challenge but something I’m very excited to be taking on.
Tell us a little bit more about the location, and how audiences can really feel immersed in the world of Peaky Blinders?
The amazing thing about this show is that it will take place in a site specific location from the TV series. Alfie Solomons has a warehouse in Camden, and that’s where Tommy will host this party. The cobblestone floor of the Camden Stables adds such a richness to the experience. Rebecca Brower is an amazing designer and I’ve had a sneaky look at the set, which is full of little Easter Eggs from the series. The Wagon for example is fresh from series 6, the Snug in the Garrison is the original and lots more like that. The original stables themselves also pay homage to all of the horses within the series, which is exciting. There are also a few hidden areas which will be very exciting to try and find as an audience member. That’s your challenge!!
The play unfolds in such a way that the outcome can change, what’s most challenging about that for you as an actor?
I think that’s where this immersive show differs; we are giving the audience true agency to change scenes, and ultimately the outcome. We are rehearsing 3 different endings which will be triggered depending on how the audience have played the game & changed our story.
As an actor I find this incredibly exciting; it will certainly keep us on our toes as we genuinely don’t know each night what will happen. Immersive theatre as an actor allows you to truly experience things/scenes for the first time, because each different audience member will feed you different information, say new things, etc.
You could come back to this show several times and it should feel new & original & we get to share that with you. The audience is our last cast member and we can wait for them to join.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming along to experience Peaky Blinders: The Rise?
I think now more than ever we need escapism. Immersive theatre allows you to step into someone else’s shoes for the night, you can interact, bring you own character, new name, whatever you want… or you can just observe to escape. But whatever or however you decide to play our game, that’s what it is, play.
You can leave your stress’ of everyday life at the door and escape into a world of make believe for a couple of hours. The soundtrack & live music we have in our show will make it feel like you’ve been to a gig, the theatrical elements have the potential to be really moving, and there’ll certainly be a drop of Whisky to sample. All of your senses should be stimulated in one night. So get your tickets; BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY BLINDERS!