Location: Cambridge, MA
Date played: December 11, 2016
Price: $45 – 80 per ticket
Story & setting
Set in a 1939 nightclub, attendees had the opportunity to explore dance, take in a variety of performing acts, and puzzle through a story of espionage and intrigue.
The band was incredible. The venue was awesome. The dancers were on fire. The characters were engaging… and damn near the entire audience was decked out in full costume.
This puzzling event was so much more than a couple of hundred people sitting around tables solving their way through a manila envelope of puzzles. It was a living, breathing, and occasionally chaotic mystery. No one, not even the actors, knew exactly how the evening would unfold.
The puzzles weren’t delivered to the tables; we had to earn them by interacting with the various non-player characters (NPCs). They would send us on quests to gain bits of information or give us things that we had to solve. While some puzzles were straightforward, others involved less-than-usual interactions with the cast.
Every puzzle advanced the story, even if it only added a little depth to a character.
The band and Lindy hoppers were of particular note. Both fit beautifully into spectacle of the evening. Let’s be real; in 2016, a swing band and a gaggle of folks Lindy hopping with style and skill isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence.
The setting was amazing.
The audience looked awesome. We were shocked to see so many people fully commit to the evening. My hat is off to everyone in attendance. Such a classy bunch.
The actors were exceptional at improvising with us. We didn’t see anyone break character.
The puzzling and live action roleplaying were strong. Our team was split into puzzlers and interacters. Lisa and I spent most of the evening playing with the characters, unraveling the interpersonal mysteries, and dancing. Lisa solved two puzzles and I only got around to solving the last one. There was a lot to do.
Attendees who wanted to dance could pretty much go the entire night doing nothing but dancing.
Attendees who wanted to puzzle could puzzle the night away (if they teamed up with some folks who would handle the NPC interactions).
Attendees who wanted to passively watch everything unfold could simply enjoy that.
We attended opening night and there were a few places where Club Drosselmeyer felt like a public beta test:
- A lot of players seemed to struggle getting started and finding their place in the narrative.
- There were moments when we became confused, and therefore baffled the actors a little bit because they didn’t understand what we weren’t getting (and no one was breaking character, us included).
- One particular character was a bit too necessary and popular. A line formed to interact with him and that slowed the game’s pace and progression.
- The area around our table was consumed by people waiting on line to meet with the aforementioned popular character.
The stage acting at the end felt very forced. It was cute, but it wasn’t compelling.
The VIP ticket designation didn’t matter. At any ticket level, audience members made their experience what they wanted.
Club Drosselmeyer’s run is only two shows. The final show is tomorrow night (December 16, 2016).
Should I play Club Drosselmeyer?
Club Drosselmeyer was more than I could have ever hoped for from a puzzling event and I couldn’t help but go in with high expectations.
Puzzling, swing dancing, and interactive theater are three of my favorite things.
We worked hard throughout Club Drosselmeyer and left exhausted. It was worth every ounce of effort. Our team was the only one to unravel the main storyline and thus I got to choose the path that the ending would take.
If you’re going tonight, dress up, become a character, team up, and play hard. There are plots and subplots to explore (many of which went unexplored on opening night). There’s more than one evening’s worth of fun at Club Drosselmeyer. I wish I could go back.
Club Drosselmeyer is sold out… as it should be.