I’m in Sherlock Holmes’s study, rifling through anything that isn’t nailed down. The scent of a case is in my nostrils as I read through papers, inspect books and items of clothing – and try to hide anything significant I find from the roomful of other visitors.
Among those present is Doctor Watson who, far from being perturbed by the horde of strangers who’ve just invaded his private rooms, is effusive, welcoming and happy to answer any questions we may have about the case.
The study is just as you’d hope 221B Baker Street would be: a comfortable Victorian room, with desk, bookshelves and armchairs, cosily cluttered with period items, including of course paraphernalia from the great detective’s cases, and those reflecting his personal vices – a Persian slipper used as a tobacco pouch and a small case containing the syringe for injecting a certain 7% solution into his veins on a slow day.
While the study is certainly the centrepiece of Madame Tussauds’ immersive Sherlock Holmes experience The Game’s Afoot, other sets are also pleasingly detailed and atmospheric. From the tiled morgue, stocked with gruesome medical equipment and home to two intriguing characters – one of whom you can question and another who you won’t get much response from – to the atmospheric cobbled streets of the docks, and a public house which offers up a suspect but sadly no actual alcohol. The moor is a little less impressive – a slightly feeble attempt at recreating the dark and intimidating expanses of nighttime Dartmoor. But then with only three square metres to work with, that was always going to be a tough ask. To be honest, the whole place could be a bit bigger – if only to fit in a real bar where you can peruse your notes over a quick pint.
Nevertheless, me and my partner in crime-solving have good fun darting between the different areas, collecting evidence and questioning potential suspects, who play their parts convincingly and have the improv skills to give as good as they get in the interrogation stakes (particularly Charlotte Newton John as sort-of-grieving widow Pearl Blackwood). A nice touch, too, in casting a female Inspector Lestrade.
Sadly, the clues don’t seem to point in any one direction and as the time ticks down we feel a bit rushed in making our deductions. When the truth is revealed it quickly becomes clear that we’re not cut out for detective work – or maybe just that we had a few too many wines before we got here.
Either way, it’s been a fun, atmospheric, little detective adventure, even if the prices are verging on the criminal – up to £66.50 for this hour-long experience when you could pay less for a whole night out at Secret Cinema (and you don’t get access to the rest of Madame Tussauds either). If the space was extended enough to fit in that bar, they could charge less for tickets and recoup it there (just saying).
Still, the venue does have the kudos of being a stone’s throw from the real Baker Street, which is also home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum – and only a couple of stops (via Charing Cross) from the Sherlock Holmes pub. Just in case you still fancy that drink…
Book tickets to The Game’s Afoot via www.thegamesafoot.co.uk
Prices: Monday/Tuesday: £46.50, Wednesday: £56.50, Thursday: £61.50, Friday and Saturday: £66.50 (including £1.50 booking fee)