‘The Grift’ review
Time Out says
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Become a con artist in this fun but undercooked immersive theatre show
Ever wanted to try your hand as a con artist? How’s about taking a tour of the five-star Town Hall Hotel, with a few escape room challenges thrown into the mix? ‘The Grift’ is the latest in a long line of ever-expanding theatrical hybrids: part immersive theatre, part ‘Crystal Maze’, and part dodgy work experience. It’ll test your nerve, your intelligence and – occasionally – your patience.
As is so often the case with this sort of work, the story is largely irrelevant. Having said that, Tom Salamon – who also penned PG promenade show ‘Goosebumps Alive’ – fills in the gaps with gusto. A quirky chap named Ben lived and died in this very hotel. Ben was a master conman, and now his pals have gathered to teach us the tricks of the trade and pull off one last scam in his memory.
What follows is a series of mini ‘conman’ tutorials, under timed conditions. We’re taught how to switch briefcases, dupe a deliveryman and engineer a financial scam. Our wits are also tested with a series of (semi) crafty conundrums. It’s initially a bit mad and fun but the tension quickly evaporates. The structure of the show – and the fact we know the scenes must keep motoring forward – means there’s little at stake, no real repercussions if things go pear-shaped.
As a piece of theatre ‘The Grift’ asks too much of its audience and, as an adventure, it demands too little. Coney’s ‘Adventure’ used a similar formula to pose difficult moral questions and the Corinthian Hotel artist-in-residence productions feel wedded to the building in more interesting ways. A fun quick scam but not a brilliant long-term investment.