You are a new recruit to Scotland Yard. As you stand on the streets of Victorian London, mist floating round your ankles, a police inspector begins issuing orders. There’s been a murder. Inspector Lestrade wants you to show Sherlock Holmes what Scotland Yard is really made of and solve the mystery first.
You grab your notebook and your list of suspects and you begin exploring the scene of the crime. You see a suspect standing nearby and head over to interview her, your mind racing as you try to figure out how to get her to talk.
And so, The Game’s Afoot.
This is the production currently taking place at Madame Tussaud’s, performed by the Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company. During this play, the audience doesn’t sit on plush seats behind “the fourth wall”. You are part of the action, and the experience you have is determined by you.
The show takes place in an intricately designed set, where you can wander through the streets of Holmesian London, visit Scotland Yard, interview the Coroner as she dissects the victim’s body, or wander down the docks to interview a suspect. And that is only a small example of the many areas you can explore.
Your job is to collect clues and try to solve the murder. You are expected to interview suspects, read reports, and look for evidence everywhere.
Now I’ve enjoyed immersive theatre before, for example Punchdrunk performances where you wander through huge warehouses, exploring the set and encountering the actors in non-linear ways as they perform their scenes, resulting in a highly individual experience. However, The Game’s Afoot takes this concept a step further, by forcing you to basically become one of the actors.
Now I would not describe myself as shy but I’m also not the most outgoing person in the world. So I have to say it took me a while to get into my stride when trying to interview the suspects. You have to be clever to get them to reveal anything. You have to pretend it’s real and talk to them in a way that tricks or flatters them into revealing details. The actors’ performances are flawless, not missing a beat no matter what sort of question you hurl at them.
This is a great night out if you want to challenge yourself, and you’re sure to have loads to discuss with your companions afterwards. I only wish that they gave you just a little longer to enjoy the realistic atmosphere and amazing sets. I’d just started to really get into my detective character by the time it was all over.
There are two stories on offer, “The Case of the Poisonous Poet” and “The Case of the Bloodthirsty Beast”. I attended the latter, and am very tempted indeed to buy tickets to the other one now that I’ve boned up on my sleuthing skills.