I was recently invited to attend the new immersive theatre game, The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar, by Buck Buck Games in their residency at The Owl and the Hitchhiker pub on Holloway Road, London.
I’ve never really attended anything immersive theatre related, or escape room related before so I literally had no idea what I was walking into, but the Buck Buck Games website describe it as ‘ Our event games and characters combine escape rooms, immersive theatre and murder mystery with fun fuelled challenges’ so I thought I would take my husband along for unique evening out!
The pub itself is a complete hidden treasure in, it’s quirkiness is apparent as soon as you walk in ( it has hairdryers all hanging from the ceiling above the bar!). It has a table tennis table around the back of the bar and there were a group of people playing card games at one of the tables and a couple in one of the booth seating areas playing monopoly……….so not your typical pub in any sense. They have a great menu ( our plan was to eat before we played but unfortunately the traffic was not on our side that evening and we didn’t have enough time) including an extensive vegan selection, and although we didn’t get the chance to eat, the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked very good.
Anyway, on to the games. As we arrived and got a drink we could see more groups turning up and congregating at the bottom of the stairs were the games were advertised.
We were met by one of the characters who came down and rounded us up and gave us our little bag of ‘golds’ and the rules to play by. Then we were taken upstairs where we met the Baron who explained loosely what we had to do ( get as many ‘golds’ as we could by solving the clues as well as bartering and bribing others), he warned us to watch out for the ‘serpent’ and when we heard the horn being blown we had to ‘drop to the deck’ to escape the serpent and if we didn’t or we were too slow we would have to forfeit some of our collected golds. Believe me this is no easy feat when you use a walking stick like me, but there was no way I was getting caught out……………..and either I was a bloody fast mover, or they took pity on me, but I didn’t get caught out! My competitive nature must have kicked in at that point.
Now, what I don’t want to do is give anything away that would be considered a spoiler so I didn’t take any pictures inside the rooms. What I can tell you though that this immersive game is completely BONKERS BUT BRILLIANT! Bonkers as in the characters were fabulous at spinning the story and getting you to fully immerse yourself in what was going on, however mad it was………….and it was completely mad. There was about 20 of us in the group we were in and some of them were brilliant at getting involved ( I’m looking at you lot in the dunces hats that evening). This, I can imagine, only makes the game much more fun for all involved. My husband was sooooooo far out of his comfort zone at the start ( not having done anything like this before) but once we got started on the clues and what was going on he was fully into it and we had such a laugh between us. Do not be afraid to barter with or blackmail the other people there, it can make all the difference to what you find out and what alliances can be made – that’s all I’m going to say.
I can happily say that in our game we did in fact find the smoking caterpillar and I did receive my Certificate of Cooperation!
If I tell you anything else I think it would spoil it though so I’m going to leave it there. We loved it. It was a new experience for us and we were so glad we were invited along to review it. Honestly, if you are looking for something different and completely bonkers to do then I cannot recommend this enough. Get a big group of you along for a great night out or just go as a couple like we did, either way leave any sense of normality at the door, let yourself just enjoy the madness going on around you and I guarantee you’ll have great fun.
If you get a chance to go early to have some food in the pub first, or stay after to enjoy a few drinks in a great friendly atmosphere afterwards, it’s worth the trip.
These were some of the characters there that evening ( although I’m sure these must change depending on when you go obviously), these guys were amazing at getting everyone involved and into the story………….they work bloody hard too as it must be difficult to keep very enthusiastic participants on track in order to finish in time and yet still stay fully in character! ( the game lasts around an hour and a drink is included once you are taking up to the room). Word of warning it gets very hot up there with all of the participants in the rooms together and we did attend on the hottest day on record! The good news is the actual pub downstairs is gloriously air conditioned and believe me you will want a drink and a cool down when you come out.