In this experience which claims to “push the boundaries of immersive theatre and escape room fun”, a simple property viewing turns into so much more when a mysterious portal opens…
Anyone who’s ever tried to rent or buy in London knows that when you step through a front door to view a property, you step into the unknown, placing your hopes and dreams into the agent’s hands as you prepare to face the untold heavens or hells that lie beyond. The Viewing, a new immersive adventure by Buckbuck Games and MashUp! Productions, takes that concept incredibly literally as it plunges you into room upon room of surprises, challenges and delights.
Arriving at Ninth Life, the Catford pub where The Viewing takes place, we realised that we’d unwittingly booked to attend our second production by Buckbuck Games within the space of just over a week. Having enjoyed The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar, we had high hopes for an evening of whimsy and puzzles. We soon discovered that although both games take place in the upper floors of charmingly eccentric pubs, the format of The Viewing is rather different: participants slip through a portal into a maze-like series of rooms, each an aesthetic contrast to the one before, and face a sequence of challenges, all while interacting with a cast of colourful characters.
A huge part of our enjoyment of The Viewing was the fun and surprise of discovering each new environment. At times we laughed out loud with wonder upon glimpsing our next room or the next character we would interact with. Not only was each environment vastly different from the last, some had very rich and detailed design, leaving us wishing that we had had more time to explore the finer details of some of the rooms where we spent only a few minutes. Twisting and turning from one room to the next, we soon lost track of how many we had passed through and how the whole experience fitted together spatially. The Viewing is an experience where, if you enter into the spirit of it, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled through time and space without leaving the building.
What about the escape room element?
As you would expect from an experience advertised as part-escape room, there are a variety of tasks and challenges to be attempted along your journey – but some of them would be less at home in an escape room than others. The Viewing isn’t for you unless you’re willing to leave your dignity and reserve behind you and embrace some performance-based tasks. This wasn’t too awkward for us as the two of us had the only booking for our time-slot, and therefore weren’t sharing the experience with any other participants (except, of course, the actors); if you don’t fancy getting silly in front of strangers then it might be advisable to book with a few friends. Alongside these tasks, there were some more typical escape room puzzles, which were enjoyable to solve – although we were rarely left alone to solve them: in most cases, an actor was on hand to guide us along. This might make The Viewing more accessible for those unfamiliar with escape rooms, but escape enthusiasts could find themselves wishing the actors would take a step back. We found, however, that the added dimension of interacting with each room’s quirky resident just added to the hilarity.
Like searching for your ideal property, The Viewing has you jumping through hoops and trying to separate fact from fantasy and lies from reality. Unlike London house-hunting, however, it is incredibly fun. Escape room fans, as well as the uninitiated, should get a few friends together and give it a go.