Blast Theory and Hydrocracker presents

Operation Black Antler

★★★★★ “Uncomfortable at times and outright disturbing at others… This truly gripping piece of theatre will have you gripped.” – Manchester Evening News

★★★★★ “The cleverest and most challenging I have ever taken part in.” – North West End

★★★★★ “As the show gets going, I become fully immersed, at times even forgetting that the situation is make-believe, which is a real credit to some of the fantastic actors… As the show ends, we wish we had more time. The beauty of Operation Black Antler is in the complete unknown.” – Northern Soul

★★★★ “Being outside your comfort zone is what Black Antler is all about… Those who like some brain fodder and an element of surprise – to be challenged as well as entertained – should take advantage of this show while it’s still in Manchester. Unique, slightly surreal and unafraid to tackle taboos, it’s an experience you’re unlikely to find again.” – Manchester Confidential

“This reviewer’s advice is simple: go along for the ride!” – The Reviews Hub

“It is like a shot of adrenaline straight to your moral compass.” – Circles and Stalls

“Enjoy being part of a unique performance which nobody else will experience – not even the people you arrive with.” – Cultural Shenanigans

“A fascinating thrill ride that is very impressively put together and performed.” – British Theatre Guide

“Understand the emotional consequences of being someone you’re not. Question the decisions we as a society make in how we monitor extremist groups.” – Quiet Man Dave

“It is the power and subtlety of Operation Black Antler that ensures we really do become deep swimmers in a very murky world.” – Live Art Alive

“This project is of enormous importance and an extremely high standard… Exceptionally rewarding not to mention surprising.” – Audience Bulldog

“The immersive aspect – that requires patrons to assume false identities, locate and discreetly interrogate suspects – becomes so absorbing, so much fun, that you tend to overlook the moral context.” – Manchester Theatre Awards

“A site specific play which asked poignant questions even more relevant today than when it was written on whether it is right to infiltrate and to survey.” – About Manchester

“An immersive drama about police surveillance and political extremism, topics that are both sensitive and relevant.” – Mancunian Matters

★★★★ “Serious and challenging… this kind of imaginative conspiracy shakes one up a bit, makes one look at the world differently.” – The Guardian

★★★★★ “The genius of Black Antler is it doesn’t tell us what to think… You’re not just immersed in a drama, you are the one who makes it happen… A truly exciting theatrical experience.” – Morning Star

★★★★ “A thought-provoking and superbly performed immersive experience with a political charge.” – The Stage

“If you can get a ticket and if you’re interested in work that asks more of you than sitting and watching, this is something you should really experience.” – Exeunt

★★★★★ “Unmissable stuff, beautifully crafted and delivered by two remarkable companies.” – Latest Brighton

★★★★★ “Highlight of the piece – the whole thing from start to finish was a masterpiece – more of this please!” – Ginger Wig

Go undercover for one night across secret locations in Manchester to explore the moral corruption at the heart of state surveillance. What will you do when the power is in your hands?

Operation Black Antler is an immersive theatre piece by four-times BAFTA nominated artists’ group Blast Theory and critically-acclaimed immersive theatre company Hydrocracker that invites you to enter the murky world of undercover surveillance and question the morality of state-sanctioned spying.

For 40 years British police officers have been undercover inside protest groups. Scandals such as Wikileaks, the Snowden affair and the revelations about the Special Demonstration Squad show that secret forces within the state have little respect for law.

In Operation Black Antler you are given a new identity as part of a small team; you are briefed and then sent into an undercover operation. Once inside, you can choose to take part in a series of challenges that encourage you to consider what is and isn’t acceptable in the name of security. From a first-hand perspective, you must make decisions and then reflect on the consequences of your decisions. What will you do when the power is in your hands?


Co-commissioned by Ideas Test and Brighton Festival, Operation Black Antler has been developed with support from Arts Council England, The Chalk Cliff Trust and in partnership with Dramatic Resources.

  • Running time approx 2hrs (no interval)
  • Recommended age 16+
  • This production features adult themes, strong language and audience interaction
  • The show takes place at secret locations near HOME
  • You will be alerted by SMS message as to the details of the start location
  • Please bring your fully charged mobile phone and be prepared for walking between locations in central Manchester
  • Please dress for the weather
  • Latecomers will be advised where to meet/catch up with the show through replying to the initial text message

Tickets: £20 (conc. available)

Operation Black Antler Team Ticket Deal: Want to be in a team with your friends? Get six – nine people together and save £2 per ticket. Tickets must be purchased together at the same time (subject to availability).

  • If you are a wheelchair user and have any questions, please contact Blast Theory at