‘The Grift’ has turned east London’s Town Hall Hotel into a fun scam school for wannabe hustlers.
If you like a bit of an escape room-style treasure hunt, then this new immersive game in Bethnal Green will get your engine running. It’s a two-hour immersive ‘adventure’ for an audience of fifty, sending players searching through the corridors, foyers, store cupboards and bedrooms of the luxury hotel for clues, keys and con artists.
Devised by writer Tom Salamon, The Grift assembles its participants in a drawing room at the hotel to receive their mission. A video briefing from a recently deceased benefactor (and illegitimate love-child of the stars) sets the stakes: he hopes to take down a villainous adversary from beyond the grave, through one last elaborate con perpetuated by… you.
It’s a fun and frothy scenario to launch you (and a team of some of your fellow audience members) on a mission through the ornate premises, where you’ll complete ‘training exercises’, prove your mettle with ‘intelligence tests’ and uncover more about your ultimate target.
Along the way you’ll rendezvous with various cast members (a uniformly bubbly and likeable crew who keep things nice and light) who’ll provide you with the guidance and guile you need to complete your next task. The Grift never quite achieves the magical ‘penny drop’ moment of a truly ingenious heist story, but the assorted schemes and scams you’ll execute do ultimately come together to deliver some cosmic justice.
With it’s locked boxes, hidden keys and scribbled notes, ‘The Grift’ is definitely way more ‘Crystal Maze’ than Punchdrunk. But undeniably, it’s a quirky thrill to spend a couple of hours scurrying about such fancy surroundings. Happy hustling!
The Grift runs until March 25, with tickets from £32. Find out more and get tickets on their website.
[All photos: Scott Rylander]