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Tuesday 25 March 2014

Heist - 2.8 Hours Later - Scooter Caffe

Friday 7th March - A bit of variety on The List today with a couple of interactive events to comment on.  First up is Heist, an immersive / interactive show from differencEngine which is running for four more days in Marylebone (until 29th March) though more dates could be added.  Buy tickets here if they aren't sold out already, or keep checking for returns.

"For one night, live a life of crime.

"Plan a heist and pull it off.

"Could you move undercover across four floors of security challenge to break into a sealed room? Your mission: steal the contents, and get out again without being discovered.

"In the murky underworld of Heist, you and up to seven accomplices hide, sneak and blag your way through an epic theft. Unique from the start, the choices you make and the actions you take change the entire story from beginning to end.

"Are you in? Bring friends or meet your accomplices for the first time on your chosen night of crime.

"We can get you in. We can get you out. The rest is up to you."

The Nudge sent out a newsletter about Heist and bookings went a bit mad.  Luckily I called on my reliable father to grab 4 tickets whilst I was at work and I went about assembling my crack team for carrying out a robbery.  In the end I went for Andy (improviser extraordinaire), Will (fast and tall), and Ali (fits into small spaces).  

After a predictably shoddy meal at the local Sam Smith's pub, Angel in the Fields, we made our way over to Theatre Delicatessen on Marylebone High Street.  We made our way up the stairs and walked through a cupboard to find a hidden bar. There we were grouped with 4 more people and given nicknames by One Step (the host & barman who greets you on arrival):

Kindergarten, Commodore, Demigod, Textbook, Fools Gold, Gromit, Striptease & San Fran. Points to anyone who correctly guesses my pseudonym for the evening.

I won't go into great detail, as you should experience it for yourself, but the evening involved playing poker with the shady Doyle, sneaking around several floors disguised as cleaners with AJ, avoiding being caught on CCTV cameras, and listening to the movements (and entertaining banter) of Granger & Nabikov, the main guards.  We also watched other groups attempt the Heist on live CCTV footage from the safety of the bar afterwards - one bunch were comically forced to do a lot of cleaning when Granger ran into them.

The Heist itself lasted about an hour once we left the bar.  I would love it to be longer and felt a bit rushed, but we were fairly slow at the start (I blame Textbook's 10 minute wrestle with the walkie talkies), and they obviously want to fit more people in as it only takes 8 at a time.  I would happily pay a bit more, and do it in smaller groups for longer.  

The choices you make can lead to multiple endings, and groups have apparently taken it in some very strange directions!  It's a fun & very affordable experience (£20) which you won't forget in a hurry - try and get yourself a ticket.

Saturday October 19th - My write up on zombie experience 2.8 Hours Later is way overdue, but in fairness I was waiting on Sebastian Roberts' superb photos (which you can see in full on his blog), AND there is a new set of London dates around the corner (24th-25th April, 1st-3rd May).

Similar to Heist, I gathered a team of 4 (Sal, Seb & Mary) and we were grouped with 4 more players who had done a 2.8 Hours Later event before.  These guys filled us in a little bit as we weren't quite sure what to expect, though I did have a quick read of some entertaining FAQs and rules beforehand:

Q: Can I bring weapons?

A: This is a definite no. So, no nerf guns, latex swords, frying pans, cosmic death rays, throwing stars or cutlasses etc. Sorry guys, but if you bring anything that might be construed as a weapon by Her Majesty's finest, we will have to confiscate them at the start.


"For safety reasons we do require that you don't drink alcohol before or during the game. Drunk people always hurt themselves or get eaten. It's a rubbish survival plan."

The starting point for the event was way out East near Maryland in a car park where we were "decontaminated" by some aggressive medical types and given high-vis armbands to mark us as players.  Many groups turned up in awesome fancy dress costumes including some in full Hazmat suits - I can't imagine they fared too well when trying to run away.

We were then sent out into the world, forced out of the safe zones due to lack of proper identification and tried to make our way to asylum whilst avoiding being caught (or tagged) by zombies.

Our travels took us past the Olympic Park which was looking great at night, as well as some very creepy quiet areas around Stratford.  We didn't see many zombies for a while, which built up the tension, but it wasn't too long before the running started.

The walkway you can see below was a particularly gruelling section which required a fair amount of sprinting to avoid the zombies.  It reminded me ever so slightly of the gauntlet in Gladiators, only with the undead instead of Rhino. If you were tagged, the zombie marked you with a UV pen as infected then let you carry on.  Seb was the first to go, probably because he was taunting them with his camera.

The zombies were very committed & convincing all night.  Some crawled along the muddy floor, others emerged from thorny hedgerows, and the screaming & running really got the adrenalin going. You can volunteer to be one of the zombies, though good luck getting time off work to attend Zombie School.

We ran into many excellent character actors along the way, including some very convincing policeman (who weren't adverse to a bit of police brutality).  Some members of the general public stuck in a massive traffic jam actually shouted abuse at them for not sorting out their problem!

We eventually made it to the last stretch, where I took a massive fall.  I think the nearest zombie took pity on me, as I got away untouched and I think I heard "Bluuuurgh.....braiiiiiins.....are you ok?" from one of them.  We thought we had lost Seb, but in a proper Hollywood moment, he emerged running round the bend, taking pictures of two female zombies as they tried to run him down before he reached Asylum.

Asylum was in fact a Zombie Disco in a warehouse near Canning Town, though we had to go through an infection checkpoint first.  Only two of us survived in the end, whilst the rest were sent through into the infection tent.  They came out 5 minutes later with some impressive zombie make up.

Inside Asylum there was a live feed of the zombie evasion going on outside, as well as a Infected vs Survivors count for the evening.  There were zombie photo opportunities with props, arcade games, zombie-based beverages and even some comedy zombie aerobics routines.  Drinks could have been cheaper (or maybe at least one free) given the price of the tickets, but it was an impressive place to end up.

It was a brilliant evening which I would definitely repeat, though we did feel it was lacking a bit of invention.  It was largely about running as fast as you can which isn't ideal for everyone, and wasn't nearly as scary as I hoped it would be.  There were also far too many people doing it at once, so we were constantly catching up with other groups and hearing / seeing their experiences before our turn which often took away the zombies' element of surprise.  Apparently the previous event took place in a multi-story car park and involved a lot more tasks which sounds more fun.  However, their new event called 2.8 Hours Survival sounds a lot more interesting and inventive:

"You find yourself in a community of outlaws beyond the city limits in a place called Asylum. Outside roam hordes of zombies. Inside there is safety. There is also little food, water or medicine. Without resources, there can be no future. Asylum needs your help.

"You must venture out of Asylum. You must break back into the city, find resources and make it back alive. 2.8 Hours Later: Survival is the latest instalment in the story of the zombie apocalypse. Now multi-linear and mission orientated, Survival will test and thrill players in equal measure. You are guided by our brand new app, delivering content, mission options and mapping to guide you during your terrifying adventure. Your choices will have repercussions. The fate of Asylum is in your hands.

"Will you survive the night?"

Tickets are available here for dates in London as well as Cardiff, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

We eventually left the Zombie Disco and made our way back to Waterloo for one more drink before going our separate ways.  Apologies to commuters on the Jubilee Line that night who were subjected to our zombie impersonations.  We decided to stop off at Scooter Caffe for a nightcap.

It's a quirky place quite far down on Lower Marsh that apparently used to be a Scooter & Moped shop, which explains the décor. Upstairs is a kitsch café that I could imagine sitting in all day, and downstairs is a wicked little fairylit bar with bargain drinks.   Stick to simple beverages (I'll have a Negra Modelo) and you can't go wrong here. Look out for Bob, the in house tabby cat.  The atmosphere is great, and you will soon forget you are next door to one of the busiest stations in the world.  


Whilst I'm on an events role I should mention something next week that I'm very excited about.  The folks at Press Play are kicking off their Film is Art series with immersive screenings of Kill Bill on 3rd-6th April for a ridiculous £20/ticket which will hopefully make Future/Secret Cinema think about their pricing.  Here's what Press Play have to say:

"Our next event sees the creation of an innovative form if film interpretation, set in the basement of a hidden London location.  Combining live art and bespoke production, we are offering a screening of Kill Bill like you've never seen before.

"The venue will transform from a minimal, brick walled space into a detailed film set through art installations and props.

"To heighten all of your human senses, everything you do, smell, touch and hear will replicate the film. Fresh sushi will be on offer to make and munch for a light dinner along with drinks from our bespoke 'Pussy Wagon Bar' to help wash it down."

According to Design My Night, Audio Bullys are going to be giving a special DJ set at the after party including their own take on the iconic "Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot me Down)" that Tarantino made use of.

Kill Bill is a wonderful and obvious choice for an immersive experience with its beautiful visuals, pop culture references, and brilliant music - fingers crossed Tarantino thinks the same and pops his head in. Having spent a fair amount of time on Press Play's addictive blog looking at their collection of classic behind the scenes photos, I have faith that these guys love what they are doing and are going to put on a great show - get your tickets here now and I'll stop saying the word immersive.

Star Wars & Godzilla Tricks - Press Play Blog

Boris Karloff enjoying tea & toast on set of Frankenstein - Press Play Blog

Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever - Press Play Blog

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