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Review: The House of Irene Adler, Babel Studios

The strictures of the pandemic have meant that many smaller theatre companies are unwilling to mount full productions, as the prospect of cast members having to self-isolate mean the chances of making it to opening night diminish. Scaled-back theatre now blurs the lines between drama and escape room, as seen in the outstanding The Drop. ImmerCity have in the past entertained us with several full-cast immersive mysteries, including the excellent The Silhouette in the Smoke. The House of Irene Adler falls firmly into the escape room category, with just one actor who both welcomes you to the show and…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

In this escape room with attitude, you'll need your investigative powers to help Sherlock Holmes unravel the mystery.

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The strictures of the pandemic have meant that many smaller theatre companies are unwilling to mount full productions, as the prospect of cast members having to self-isolate mean the chances of making it to opening night diminish. Scaled-back theatre now blurs the lines between drama and escape room, as seen in the outstanding The Drop.

ImmerCity have in the past entertained us with several full-cast immersive mysteries, including the excellent The Silhouette in the Smoke. The House of Irene Adler falls firmly into the escape room category, with just one actor who both welcomes you to the show and performs vignettes at a couple of points as the story unfolds.

Taking place in a disused office block in Kentish Town, you start in the dressing room of Irene Adler – who, you will recall, was Sherlock Holmes’ only romantic interest, ‘the woman’ who featured in the short story A Scandal in Bohemia. In this version, Ms Adler has apparently tumbled to her death from a hot air balloon, having successfully stolen an archaeological treasure from the British Museum.

Of course, nothing is truly as it seems. As you explore the dressing room you discover the secret entrance to a warren of additional locations, each unlocked by solving puzzles and deciphering clues. All the time you’re in contact via vacuum tube with Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard and two others whose identity you need to work out. Convince them that you’re really Irene, and they’ll send you the information and props you’ll need to take the mystery further.

Ingenious mechanisms, a wealth of artefacts and decoration and some surprising reveals go a long way towards diverting attention from the sometimes ragged sets, as you work with your group to unravel the truth. As escape rooms go, this is an above average experience, with tasks that are more cerebral than physical. 

If you like your theatrical experiences intricate and immersive, and aren’t too bothered about the lack of a full cast, you’ll find this rewarding and satisfying.

Directed by: Rosanna Mallinson
Produced by: ImmerCity
Booking until: 9 January 2022. Booking link below.

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About Steve Caplin

Steve is a freelance artist and writer, specialising in Photoshop, who builds unlikely furniture in his spare time. He plays the piano reasonably well, the accordion moderately and the guitar badly. Steve does, of course, love the theatre. The worst play he ever saw starred Charlton Heston and his wife, who have both always wanted to play the London stage. Neither had any experience of learning lines. This was almost as scarring an experience as seeing Ron Moody performing a musical Sherlock Holmes. Steve has no acting ambitions whatsoever.