Accomplice The Show – New York [Review]

Bring a group of characters to play with their characters.

Location: New York City, New York

Date played: May 21, 2016

Team size: 10; we recommend 10

Duration: ~3 hours

Price: $80 per ticket

Accomplice the show logo

Story & setting

A day before our game, Lisa received a phone call from a man in character giving very specific instructions for our team.

While I can’t give away the details of where exactly we went, or precisely what we did, I’ll say this: they call it “Accomplice” for a reason.

The setting of Accomplice New York was truly Downtown Manhattan.

The game was something in a nether-realm spanning a live action roleplay, scavenger hunt, and escape room. There were compelling characters, interesting locations, and easy puzzles.

Interaction

This was an interactive show. There were specific tasks to accomplish and a fair amount of walking involved. We engaged with conversationally energetic characters.

Accomplice was not a passive experience.

A selfie of two people holding something. The object they are holding is obscured by a sign reading,
This was probably the most memorable activity of Accomplice.

Standouts

Accomplice was a tour of Lower Manhattan. We traversed a number of significant neighborhoods and met realistic yet humorous characters that were, shall we say, unique to New York.

The team at Accomplice had their coordination and stage management down to a science. They had impressive mechanisms to keep teams moving through the game on the right pace, especially considering the physical size of their stage.

The actors were wonderful. Not only did they portray great characters, but they didn’t stick to a script. We messed with them a bit and they never broke character. We shared a short meal with a particular character and he ended up engaging Lisa in an incredibly detailed discussion about her career in onomastics and what she could tell about him (his character) based on his name.

Most impressively, the Accomplice actors read our team of individuals so well and worked that into their performance. When they made fun of us, they were painfully accurate in their assessments of each of us. It was hilarious.

Shortcomings

We didn’t race through the game; we tried to milk each interaction for all that it was worth. There were points in the game where we received food or drink and we could not tell how much time we had with our nibbles and libations. Sometimes it was longer than we expected; sometimes we were chased out before we were through.

One character was so realistic that it was uncomfortable. We had to break our character during our initial interactions with this person because we were worried we were weirding out a stranger.

Speaking strictly as a puzzler, the puzzles were not Accomplice’s strong suit. However, I don’t think that they were supposed to be – nor should they have been – difficult.

Should I play Accomplice New York?

There was a lot of love about Accomplice New York. Through its decade-long run, the producers have developed a deep understanding of their craft.

Speaking as a guy who has lived most of my life within arm’s reach of Manhattan, it was hilarious to interact with all of these NYC stereotype characters. There are some people who only exist in the in this part of the world.

Accomplice was also an excellent walking tour of Lower Manhattan, taking us through a number of neighborhoods that a tourist should see while visiting The City.

If you’re only looking for puzzles, you should do something else with your time. However, if you’re looking to experience New York and an interactive show in tandem, I cannot think of a better way to spend 3 hours and $80.

Book your session with Accomplice New York, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Interactive Theater & Escape Rooms

You happen to it and it happens to you.

Image Sleep No More
Image Sleep No More

Background

With interactive theater, also known as immersive theater, audience members help create their theater experience.

In a traditional theater experience, through sight and sound, audience members passively experience a performance in front of them, out of reach. They do not create.

Interactive theater encompasses a variety of different theatrical productions. The genre exists in between traditional theater and experiential games, designed and orchestrated by the participants.

Escape games exist on this continuum of interactive theater.  They take place on a set that is designed and staged before they arrive. However, the players determine how their game unfolds. The best room escapes turn the players into the actors of their own adventures.

In escape rooms, as in all types of theater, the experience is a work of art.

Variation

Interactive theater experiences vary widely based on:

  • size of the audience
  • size of the cast
  • size of the set
  • rules of the set
  • adherence to a plot

The genre is still developing; there isn’t a right or wrong way to design these experiences.

Four tips to make the most of your interactive theater experience

1. Review the story ahead of time

The show usually tells a story. It can be an interpretation of a known work or an original creation. Because you are not in a seat experiencing the story linearly, or even experiencing every part of the story, refresh yourself on the story before you arrive at the theater.

That said, you can usually enjoy your experience even if you have no understanding that there even is a story unfolding around you.

2. Participate

Your experience depends on you. Accept every interaction you are offered. Explore every option available to you. Manipulate the set. Do things. Seek out interactions with the cast and the other audience members. Play your role in crafting your positive experience.

Smiling and making eye contact with cast members will encourage them to interact with you.

Image via Then She Fell
Image via Then She Fell

3. Get Lucky

There is a lot of luck involved in having a good time, especially in shows with larger audiences. Sometimes you need to be the one selected to participate and the selection is out of your control. Realize that luck will play a huge role in your experience and cross your fingers.

4. Bring a friend, but go at it alone

Attend the show with others. A couple or a small group works best.

Then leave your companions and find your own experiences. Don’t feel responsible for anyone else’s fun.

Discuss the show with your companions after it ends. In all likelihood, each member of your party will tell a different story, some more positive than others (based on their participation and their luck). Synthesize the show together.

Room Escapes Interacting with Interactive Theater

Yes, it’s happening. This genre combines escape-room style puzzles with intensified character development as well as actor interaction. This collaboration will help both industries grow.

Interactive Theater in NYC

Sleep No More

Based on Macbeth, this enormous interactive theater is the best known one in New York. The set is incredible, cast is great, and whole experience is dark and sexy.

Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and show up ready to chase the show’s fit cast members down corridors and up multiple flights of stairs.

Then She Fell

Our favorite interactive theater experience is based on Through the Looking Glass. It has a small audience and cast. You’ll have more than a few one-on-one interactions with the actors.

I cannot understate the intimacy and beauty of Then She Fell.

Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night is a loose retelling of The Magic Flute. The story really doesn’t matter here, as this show is part Cirque du Soleil-style circus, part burlesque show, and part banquet.

Image via Queen of the Night
Image via Queen of the Night