Review: The Grift

Review: The Grift

Could you be a con artist? This unique experience reveals the tricks of the trade

ARTICLE BY : Abha Shah


Finding a unique hen party idea just got easier this spring, thanks to The Grift at The Town Hall Hotel near Bethnal Green, east London. It’s an evening of part immersive theatre, part game that will see you spend just under two hours learning the art of the long and short con, a.k.a - the grift.

The evening begins in the hotel’s huge De Montfort Suite (at 154.1m2 with a triple height ceiling and room to spare for a full-size piano and pop-up bar, it’s truly gigantic), with guests split into four colour-coded teams.

We’re shown a clip of ‘Ben’, an elderly resident who spent this whole life grifting hotel guests and staff after being abandoned by his actor parents at birth. Now at the end of his life, he wants a score settled with a shady crook called The Hammer. By solving riddles, puzzles and pulling off scams within the confines of The Town Hall Hotel, it’s our job to dupe The Hammer and avenge Ben.

The action starts from the get-go; your team open a padlocked box bearing instructions that lead to your first clue. There are touches of escape room and treasure hunting to this as the game delivers you from one actor to the next, all with connections to Ben. Each gives a mini tutorial in performing some of the most infamous scams around.

Any fan of BBC’s Hustle will recognise these tricks, as well as anyone who’s ever received an email from a mysterious African prince. By the end of the evening, expect to have committed email and financial fraud, done the Pig in The Poke and The Money Swap, plus plenty more. You’ll crisscross the five-star hotel, darting through corridors, opening secret doors and passing bewildered guests along the way without noticing the time slipping by. What’s more, everyone has a go at being part of a con – The Grift relies heavily on audience participation – so this can be a great bonding experience.

The hotel once served as a government building (the name is a bit of a giveaway) so this is also a great chance to take in the magnificent original features, including an Edwardian courtroom where The Hammer (played by a genuinely menacing Ged Forrest) gets his comeuppance as the con comes to a close. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I’ll just say there’s a shower of crisp £50s thrown into the crowd before the curtain falls.

As hen party ideas go, The Grift certainly offers something different. Team were made up of around 8 people, so you could make yours hen-only or play against your groom and his stags on opposing teams. What’s more, its location means The Grift makes the perfect pre-party activity before hitting the clubs of the east end.

The Grift is on until 25th March 2018 at The Town Hall Hotel.

Tickets start from £35, and include a cocktail.
Dinner packages start from £57 (includes a free cocktail and a two-course meal). 
Premium packages start from £77 (includes a free cocktail, a two-course meal with a glass of champagne and a signed programme)

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Tags : The Grift  Games  Experience  Con  Scam  Tricks  Immersive Theatre  Bethnal Green 
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