An outdoor theatrical escape room as a fringe show is pretty much a dream tagline for me, and for many others across the country too, I'm quite sure. I arrived in Russell Square and looked around for a group, or sign of where to go, before phoning in for information. "Are you wearing the red socks, agent?" I was asked. Yes, I was. Mysterious. I deduced that I was within sight of my handler, and the experience had already begun.
They took advantage of the outdoor nature to achieve things that can't be done within typical confined escape rooms
I blended in with the crowd and made my way over to the dapper trilbyed gentleman, skulking not-so-subtly around a path, with a benchful of lockboxes and props laid out. Agent Noble introduced himself (as Agent Noble), and gave a generic backstory about a missing agent and how we needed to gather clues. Agent Noble did well setting the scene, and the atmosphere, giving well polished agenty banter and finding a healthy balance between creating a sense of secrecy and urgency, while not taking himself too seriously.
There was another group member due, who didn't show up, so I had the oppotunity to realise a mini-ambition: to attempt a solo escape. With the backstory in place and an hour on the timer, there was plenty of variety and ingenuity in the puzzles to solve. As an experienced escape-roomer, I was impressed with some of the props and technology involved, and admired how they took advantage of the outdoor nature to achieve things that can't be done within typical confined escape rooms. That said, they may not have taken full advantage of this, and one puzzle was made too tough by the changing landscape of the park since the materials had been created.
Agent Noble was an excellent guide, able to ad lib well and never breaking character. His instincts in clue-giving were also top notch, with tiny nudges at the right time that never give a clue away but also stop you from wasting too much time when you're off track. There is some room for him to develop a more refined caricature to further immerse you into his world and take full advantage of having a live actor going through the experience with you.
With a great range of puzzles, a gracious host, some innovation and a novel location for an escape room, this one is well worth a visit. So, put a group together, or, if you're as brave as this reviewer, even try it alone. I completed the task with 80 seconds to go. So, there's your target! This message will not self-destruct.