There’s something inevitable about ending up at something called Escape the Theatre but that analysis aside, a half-price offer with Time Out led our regular team of intrepid escape-the-roomers to Millbank Tower, fortified by a Bloody Mary or two. There, you can find an interesting twist on the locked room genre in that this challenge is a large team-based one – you could be one of up to 15 trying to solve the puzzles, competing against another team against the clock.
The premise of Escape the Theatre is that you’ve been invited to a swanky film premiere and as we enter the auditorium for an exclusive pre-film event, the lights go off, the doors are locked and a decades-long mystery is unveiled. There’s a lot to get to grips with and just 45 minutes in which to do so in order to, dun dun duuuuh, escape the theatre.
All the previous games we have done as a team have been exclusively for us, which brings with it the natural advantages of knowing each other’s strengths and (hopefully) communicating well. This game is designed for up to 30 people across 2 teams so it can produce a different dynamic if you haven’t booked your slot exclusively. It’s not necessarily good or bad but it meant that we were working with people we had only just met (who had been split from their friends on the other team), and in some cases who arrived late and so we didn’t actually speak to at all outside of the game.
Thus it became a different kind of challenge for us, about teamwork with strangers which made for an entertaining if slightly odd experience. The number of puzzles, logic exercises and clues to find is really quite substantial and so it is nigh on impossible to get a full picture of what is going on, yet you need at least a couple of strong characters who are able to join all the key pieces together in order to make sure that the problem-solving is all connected. And because there’s no social area to congregate in afterwards, the post-mortem we had (this time over rhubarb gin) was limited to our own experiences – it feels like a missed opportunity not to allow this kind of communal sharing after making it an integral part of the game.
That said, it is cleverly put together and if you’re looking for a corporate activity (or you know, have tons of like-minded friends), you do have the option for exclusive usage which would make it ultimately a more satisfying experience.