Madame Tussauds is swapping its famous waxworks for real-life actors to recreate the Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective is being brought to life a stone’s throw from Holmes’s 221B Baker Street address after the venue, one of London’s biggest tourist attractions, teamed up with immersive theatre group Les Enfants Terribles.
The team, whose critically acclaimed Alice’s Adventures Underground took place in the vaults under Waterloo station, are creating a permanent Sherlock Holmes experience and a limited run of evening shows called The Game’s Afoot where the audience becomes the detective to solve a crime.
Producer Emma Brunjes said the venue had given them “a blank canvas” to recreate the Victorian London of Holmes and his sidekick Watson, complete with lamp-lit streets and the misty moor sheltering the Hound of the Baskervilles. She said: “The idea of The Game’s Afoot is that in groups of 40 you are locked in the space for an hour and you are asked to solve the crime.
“You are given key facts and then you can roam through the space, meet different actors, interrogate them, get given clues. It is a sort of human-sized Cluedo.
“Immersive theatre is a really good way for new audiences to get into theatre for the first time.
“The key thing for us is we are putting the audience at the heart of the story. We’re not saying this is Sherlock, this is what he looks like — we’re saying you’re Sherlock, you solve this crime and then maybe you’ll get to meet the man later.”
Madame Tussauds general manager Edward Fuller said: “Sherlock Holmes: The Experience will be the first in Madame Tussauds’ history to tap in to the increasing demand for immersive theatrical adventures.” The rise of this kind of theatre has seen venues set up in unlikely locations including tower blocks, pubs, churches and disused warehouses.
One current show, called Virtually Dead, sees the audience meet at a secret east London location, to be taken in a blacked-out van to a “military facility” where they fight zombies. Secret Cinema’s recent version of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later sees the audience wearing medical scrubs and lying in hospital beds. Other shows have trapped audiences in laboratories full of man-eating plants or got them caught up in an old-school crime caper.