Town Hall, Bethnal Green, London – until 25 March 2018
Bethnal Green, right? Where tricky city slickery rubs shoulders with East End rough: it could not be a more appropriate setting for Tom Salomon’s The Grift, transplanted from its site-specific debut in San Diego to the headily repurposed municipal offices that form the glitzy Town Hall Hotel.
Hard to know which you’ll enjoy more – the chance to roam all over the hotel and feel resentful you live in London and don’t have an excuse to stay there when visiting – or the fun and games of the ‘chase’ to track down and trick a nastily authentic Mr Big (Ged Forrest, you slaaaaag) in an art auction heist.
Actually I can’t rave enough about the building – I’d been to dinner in its careful and complex Typing Room restaurant but entering from the street you don’t notice the rest of the splendour, the result of a serendipitous partnership between Singapore hoteliers and London architects RARE grafting Arts and Crafts modernism onto art deco conservation in the Edwardian building.
If you’ve visitors to London who don’t need to be within spitting distance of Harrods, it could make an interesting choice – and in March, nice rooms are on offer at £149 online. The have-it-to-yourself swimming pool alone is worth the price of admission.
First, in your teams, you need to be trained in the art of deception, learning scams you may have seen on TV’s The Real Hustle – some of the clues that unlock the next box of instructions are fiendish, but there’s always a cast member to help you along, and solve it in the six-and-a-half-minute window of each setup.
It’s impressively well executed – some of the performances are a bit breathless and the plot based on the illegitimate offspring of Michael Caine and Marilyn Monroe is barmy – but the apparatus and the props feel authentic and anyone with a taste for puzzles or crosswords will have an absolute blast.
Come alone and join a team, or come with friends, it doesn’t matter, you will still have a deal of fun. And a brisk walk round a superb building while learning how a pig in a poke is directly related to a cat in a bag. Wear flats.
Until 25 March