As you could probably tell from my last visit, I loved Heist Live – I was desperate to go back for more. But with tickets sold out on the February/March run, I’d accepted that it’d just be a one off. The mailing list had gone quiet and I’d already run through my head the question of: “would it even work as well a 2nd time around given how much I already know?”. I just happened to be checking their twitter feed when I spotted a message stating that tickets would be on sale the following day. How could I possibly turn it down? The link came through from the mailing list and I immediately messaged a few friends who’d expressed an interest – I waited patiently for them to pick a date and time… but I could see the alarming pace at which nights were selling out (in the vain hope that some had been blocked off to be sold in a later batch – they weren’t). With only a handful of nights with ‘1 ticket available’, I couldn’t risk letting it slip past. Sorry friends! As it turned out, they had sold the whole lot – in an hour. I haven’t had this level of panic since trying to get a weekend ticket for Reading Festival in years gone by.
So as usual, I presented myself to the reception: “Ahh, Miss Bishop, a repeat offender…” and waited for my team to show up, a pair and a group of 5. Having settled back into One-Step’s bar, myself, Fresh Prince and Molotov started chatting while the others trickled in. Something told me that they’d been drinking. As it turned out, they’d been drinking for 3 hours. Any fears I had for this turning out exactly the same as last time (with 6 guys who were very strategic, organised and sober) were soon allayed – just not quite in the way I’d imagined. This was going to be like herding cats. Drunk cats. Early Doors, Tourettes, Tiddlywink, The Molehill and Finelines did very little to prove me wrong. Ahh well, at least it was going to be different.
Having broken into the neighbouring building, I knew there were a few keys things for us to find – but with past experience ringing in my ears, there was one crucial item missing. Had we just not found it or was it elsewhere in the building? Were we going to have to do the whole thing without it? The rug had been pulled from under my feet and I was glad. The makers have evidently taken returners into account and changed enough things to stop you from relying on past experience and knowing where things are. All but for a bit of building layout knowledge, I was firmly back at square one – with the added bonus of tipsy accomplices. Stealth was not one of our strong points – we blundered out into the corridor, straight into one of the roaming security guards. Thankfully with just one pair of hands, he only managed to detain one or two people.
But with a team in such disarray (I think we got down to 3 of us at one point, while the others were all in various stages of arrest, lost and unsanctioned exploring), I did at least get to do a bit more hiding and running around. One mini-team managed to bring a security guard right into our hiding place, causing him to bundle out every single person except for me – I’d managed to hide under a table out of sight and just stayed still and quiet. I was probably left by myself for a minute. I wasn’t sure if any of them would be back and whether to try to do it alone. But a few reappeared and they seemed to finally have grasped the ‘not getting caught’ aspect (and sobered up a bit). The organisation started to kick in.
When I was hoping for more action than last time, I hadn’t quite bargained on it being me who’d both break into the locked room AND steal the item in question – that was a huge adrenaline rush. Pretty impressive given that last time I’d just stared at CCTV screens and not even set foot on the floor where that item was, so this floor was as new to me as it was to everyone else. We’d largely pulled together by this point, but something went wrong towards the end, so we ultimately ended up with the same outcome as I had last time.
All in all, still a huge amount of fun. I was also lucky enough to sit and chat to the directors in the bar after – a fascinating insight into what they’re trying to achieve in a niche of theatre which is still finding its own rules. Would I go back for a 3rd time? Definitely. So if it comes around again, be ready to pick a date at a moment’s notice. And please be sober…
Heist Live is on until Saturday 31st May 2014 at Marylebone Gardens, 35 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4QA. This event is now sold out but a small number of returns may be available on certain dates. All participants must be 18 or over. For tickets and more information go to http://heistlive.com/