Part theatre, part escape room, part scavenger hunt. Fully interactive.
Anonymous was our first immersive improv/theater experience. It took place on August 5th, 2017 in downtown London, Ontario. (You can see the original event page here) Because it was our first time, for planning purposes we limited participants to 40, and we had the full amount show up to play the game.
From the very beginning of the story, we decided to create Anonymous as a way to promote our improv troupe in London and gain a wider audience. We wanted to do something unique that isn’t currently being done in London, and isn’t being done much anywhere. As well, to improvise in a totally unique way, offstage and one on one. From the beginning people were interested and we got great press (like this awesome article.)
We called it Anonymous because ideally, It would play with the idea of the whole area being a part of the game, and not knowing who was in on it and who wasn’t. We had some great stories of participants going up to people not involved but who looked like they might be and saying things like “I have a balloon, do you have something for me?” (That interaction is exactly what we wished for and exactly why it was called anonymous) and also groups going into the 1st Hussars Museum (also not a part of it) and being helped by someone working there.
It was difficult and interesting writing the game. I started with a map of Victoria park and noticed right away there was an arrow. I dropped the little man on the map and up came an image of a memorial. The Boer war monument. That was place #1. I researched haunted places in London and found that the Grand theatre is supposed to be haunted, so that obviously was place #2. Over time, an Alice in Wonderland theme emerged, and I decided that the white rabbit would be the one to meet the participants (late) and would be around the game to spy (and just in case something went awry.)
The roses each group received from the Queen’s guard in Victoria Park (all red but one) alluded to the Queen of hearts having all of the white roses painted red. (The queen of hearts was also reportedly modelled after Queen Victoria). The queen of hearts card and the red balloon with the numbers inside it begin to make the theme more obvious.
At Thames & York when participants found the locked box and figured out the code from the numbers in the balloon, the clue said “You’ve made it to York, but we’re painting all the white roses red. You should try to see the Queen in a new light” When the blacklight flashlight that was in the lockbox was shone on the playing card, the address 114 Dundas Appeared.
At the Cardboard Cafe after being given a riddle by the mad matter, participants were given one of the most difficult puzzles (if not the most difficult). One group got this far in about an hour!
Once solved, participants requested a letter from the mad hatter and delivered it across the street to the Queen of hearts herself. Who read it, beheaded a card, and drew the next clue on a piece of paper, which she then dissolved in a glass of water. We also hear the queen of hearts did a truly atrocious British accent, but no one mentioned it, so everyone kept their heads.
At the Church Key, participants mentioned what the Queen of hearts told them to say: “The Vicar sent me” (Lewis Carroll’s father was a member of clergy) and were given a dessert (Victoria Sponge!) When the cheque came, it was instead a clue from the white rabbit.
The last clue, and the most hated clue by far included an excerpt from “Father William” by Lewis Carroll and the words: “This old father takes a sip at a familiar panorama, but where your journey really ends celebrates Canadiana.”
This clue was intended to lead people two William’s Coffee Pub where I imagined they would look around (panorama) and see Toboggan. But it didn’t happen that way, and numerous teams asked for (and received) extra clues from the white rabbit via email.
5 teams made it in under the wire! and we were very pleased with not only the reception from the community and participants, but how SMART teams were! We’re currently writing our second event and we can’t wait to see you there.