Tag Archives: heist

Heist Live – Marylebone Gardens (2nd helpings)

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/ 

Heist Live – Marylebone Gardens

I have just been involved in a robbery. Heist Live gives you the chance to live a life of crime for one night. Your accomplices can get you in and they can get you out, but for the planning and execution – you’re on your own.  You and a team of up to 7 other people.  I’ve spent the evening creeping around darkened corridors and staircases, crawling around the floor, evading CCTV cameras and hiding from roaming security guards. With hearts pounding and adrenaline coursing through veins, we pulled off our Heist.

We begin in an innocuous office lobby in Marylebone – we’re given lanyards (we are now ’employees’ of Mr Spotless Cleaning Company) and taken up to the bar where there are lockers for bags and coats and we meet One-Step, a dodgy dealer type who sorts us out with drinks (the bar is cash only but absurdly cheap for London) and gives each of us a codename: Detention (myself), Seaweed, Log Flume, Placemat, Peanut, Towers, Mars Bar and The Colonel.

We’re then taken in to meet Doyle who guides us through our task over a hand of poker: what we’re there to steal and where to find it. We’re then taken to break into the neighbouring building and meet AJ who has been working as a cleaner, so has gained a bit of inside knowledge to start us off – “if you get caught by security, remember that you’re a cleaner.  Innocent people don’t run.”  But it’s up to us to find the resources to aid ourselves (and there’s nothing to stop you bringing in a few things yourself, within reason – a torch and a pen come in very handy – but beyond that, most of the stuff that you’ll actually need is in the building for you to find). This is where the boundaries begin to blur between performance and live gaming. There are various tasks we have to complete in a set order so that we can obtain floor plans, get codes, disable CCTV hard drives and unlock rooms. Without being caught. This is possibly the most epic game of hide and seek I’ve ever played.

There is a huge amount of teamwork required – decisions to be made as to whether you stay as a group, split into pairs, where you establish a base (and when to move on) who goes out on what task, how they get there and how they get back. The creators have designed 17 possible permutations of events so the outcome is based on the choices you make as you go along – and there’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed.  There was a real heart-in-mouth moment after one little foray – voices crackled through one walkie-talkie (designated for listening to the security guards): “hey, did you leave this door open?” / “No…..” – we soon learnt our lesson!

Communication between the group is paramount and success rides on how well you divvy up the tasks.  With logistics so critical, not everyone can steal the object, but they can help play a part in locating it, accessing it, creating diversions, being on lookout etc. But even if you do find it, that’s not the end of the story – we chose our route out but it seems there may have been another option with a different outcome. But we got out without being caught. I was further from the main action, but settled into the role I was given (which aside from scouring rooms was pretty important) and having completed a few other minor tasks, it seems the work was fairly evenly spread between us.  But I found myself wishing I’d done a little more than sit staring at CCTV screens and perhaps a bit more scrabbling around the floor and diving under tables like a nutcase.  On the way home I started to think up all sorts of things we could’ve done.

Would I go back?  In a heartbeat.  Now, how to steal a ticket…..

Heist Live is on until Saturday 29th March 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/