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Theatre Review: The Game’s Afoot @ Madame Tussauds

22nd July 2016
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★★★

Your inner super-sleuth is about to unleash itself – underneath the (let’s not pretend otherwise) ever so slightly creepy tourist trap that is Madame Tussauds.

As it turns out, Marie Tussuad’s 19th Century ode to waxy weirdness is the perfect location for an immersive underground detective story, in which we delve right into the (fatally stabbed) heart of seedy Victorian London.

Based on the cultural trope of Sherlock Holmes rather than any specific story – because knowing whodunit  because you’ve read the book would give the game away – groups of around 25 people set about to individually unravel the case in the absence of the famous detective himself.

Armed with a map and a unique clue to start them on their sleuthing mission, the audience follows a route (think London Dungeon) around Sherlock’s dark streets, seedy bars and Baker Street Underground station. Along the way, we interview suspects in our violent triple murder and try and work out which is our ultimate culprit.

The glamorous yet morally questionably actress, the perambulating bookseller who might know more than she lets on, the drunken playwright, the mild-mannered chemist, the seedy dock worker who’s might be keeping London in stock of its favourite vice – at no point is it obvious which of the five suspects is the one we should we wary of. This, of course, is testament to the actors, whose improvisation skills are the bedrock on which the production is built.

Olivier-nominated Les Enfants Terribles, the geniuses behind last year’s sold out Alice’s Adventures Underground, are at the helm, and they do a great job in creating a hugely intricate production where the devil really is in the minute detail.

From the Victorian side street we first find ourselves on to the closing seconds when we finally encounter Dr Watson in Holmes’ office, the whole experience is massively fun – like an immersive version of Cluedo, with everything coming together beautifully in the (possibly quite unexpected, depending on how good your detective skills are) conclusion.

There are two versions of The Game’s Afoot, with a different mystery to solve in each – so if you find yourself itching for a second crack at solving a very murky crime, you can always go back next week to try the second story for size.

The experience would benefit from being slightly longer – at 65 minutes, there is just enough time to start building a theory before the bells start chiming and we are made to declare our suspect.

Full disclosure: we didn’t crack it, although we did get tantalisingly close. But that doesn’t mean you won’t, Sherlock.

But then, maybe that we come tantalisingly close to solving the mystery but miss out at the last moment is completely deliberate. It would certainly back up the long-held notion that it is Sherlock Holmes – and only Sherlock Holmes – that can really unravel the mystery.

The Game’s Afoot, produced by Les Enfants Terribles, is being performed at Madame Tussauds, London NW1, in a strictly limited run until Friday 30th September. Tickets are available here.

 




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