Dismantle This Room
25 April 2019
The Royal Court Theatre
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Intrigued by the description and pricing system of Dismantle This Room, I recruited two friends to go with me. From the theatre website:
Stage a violent revolution. Take them down from the inside. Blow the whistle. Or tear it all up and start again. Dismantle This Room is an immersive escape-the-room experience that asks the questions: how can we dismantle existing power structures? And what can we build in their place?
The pricing system was also divided in an interesting way, offering £1, £5, £12, and £18 ticket prices, allowing the ticket booker to decide which price best corresponds to the level of their privilege. I was a bit skeptical if this would actually work, but before the show started we were asked to divulge which price level we paid, if we were comfortable doing so, and it looked like everyone had actually really taken this self-assessment quite seriously and many had paid the highest or second highest price tier.
I don’t want to give away anything about the details, so I’m keeping this review spoiler free, which means there won’t be any details of what happens inside this experience, just a broad overview. Basically, Dismantle This Room is based on an escape room idea, but is very topically restricted on how it uses this theme. It’s all about privilege and the entertainment industry, and privilege in the entertainment industry.
We were made aware that we should try to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, and be aware of levels of privilege we ourselves possess. While most members in the large group did seem to try there best, there were a few highly privileged individuals who had to be reminded a few times and still went on to take the lead before being asked not to. This was not an escape room experience were one should run and do, but a lesson in which listening and discussing is much more important.
I do believe that these slip ups helped drive the point of the experience home and didn’t detract from it, at least for me. It was very interesting to tackle the problem of a privileged elite in threatre/film and how to dismantle it with a highly diverse group of unsuspecting patrons.
The escape room elements themselves were very cleverly done, though there could have been a bit more to do for more people, but maybe the scarcity of things to do was part of the experience to see who takes charge and who stands back. Not really knowing what we’d wander into was part of what made it so impactful, though I do wish we’d have had more of a discussion about it afterwards. As it went, everyone left in the smaller groups they came in and discussed among themselves, I’d have loved to hear more diverse opinions after the fact.
Sorry for not going into detail about what made this so special, but I think it’s something to be experienced rather than explained. Definitely an impactful, important experience that I hope many more people get to participate in over the years. Absolutely beautifully done and a great challenge!