For fans of Ocean’s Eleven or The Thomas Crown Affair, the opportunity to carry out a heist is a movie dream made real. The Perfect Crime gives you the chance to crawl through vents, dodge lasers, disable alarms and come into possession of priceless artworks. It’s fun and fast-paced with some added elements to up the tension, but needs some attention to detail to make this the perfect experience.
While this is marketed as an immersive theatre experience, it is more escape room than site-specific narrative. We are the protagonists and while the actors come and go – security guards doing their rounds – we’re the ones who have to figure out what route to take.
Our heist begins, as heists so often do, in the cleaning cupboard. We need to find a series of codes to break into a safe, leading to access to the vault. But the appearance of a guard threatens to derail our plans. We beat a hasty retreat and hide. If only we’d thought to close the telltale safe door! The guard picks up on this and radios a colleague.
Improvisation is the name of the game, for both the robbers (us) and the cops (the actors). But this is where things didn’t really feel like the high-stakes criminal mastermind caper: we got away with the mistake. So it continues. We trip lasers, set off alarms, and the consequences never quite materialise.
Something about the balance of this event is off. The joy of a heist movie isn’t in watching the gang form the perfect plan and then carry it out to the letter; it’s watching something go wrong, the red siren start flashing, and seeing our heroes leap into action to recover. Here, the margin for error is just too high. We never have to switch to plan B, we just carry on with plan A, pretending we haven’t already screwed up.
The rooms are fun, with some variety of puzzles to solve (though there’s still some reliance upon hunt-the-code-or-key). I’d have liked a bit more of an emphasis on the story to explain how we came by these blueprints or why the guards have written down codes in plain view. It’s these details that supply the verisimilitude for us to believe we’re in a vault, rather than mucking about on a set.
All that said, there were some delightful touches – from the briefing from our handler, Baroque, to the lasers (did I mention lasers!), to the route out of the vault – which made the whole experience fun and challenging. There were even some great heist-themed cocktails available in the bar for Dutch courage or a well-earned celebration.
The pieces are all in place, and with a little additional attention, and a bit more richness (by which I mean set dressing!) in the rooms, plus some in-story explanation of what’s going on at each stage, this could be a huge success. Right now it’s a bit too linear, obvious what to do, and easy to blunder your way through without being caught.
Review by Ben Ross
The Perfect Crime – a brand new immersive experience – a Rembrandt painting has been stolen and you know where it’s being hidden. You have 60 minutes to break into the safe house of a legendary thief, working to overcome their extensive security and safe codes, to get your hands on the most valuable missing piece of art in the world. But will you choose to work with the FBI or chance it on the Black Market?
Combining immersive theatre, live-action, a gripping storyline, problem and puzzle solving and a race against the clock. Make your choice – will you abide by the law or join the underground network of thieves and criminals? Only you can decide.
Theatre Deli, 2 Finsbury Avenue, EC2M 2PA (Nearest stations are Liverpool Street & Moorgate)