FRINGE REVIEW: ESCAPE FROM WONDERLAND, VEALE GARDENS

Upon entering Veale Gardens for Fire Hazard Games’ Escape from Wonderland, you are greeted by the characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. A bearded Alice takes your tickets, hands you a book with instructions, a map, and some cards to pin to yourself for the game ahead.

As you sit amongst the garden waiting for it all to begin, you can play croquet with flamingos, chat with Tweedle-dum, the Caterpillar or the Cheshire Cat or have a cup of tea with the Mad Hatter. But beware the wrath of the Queen of Hearts. She does not like to lose in croquet, and after losing to the Mad Hatter in front of the guests, the players must find the keys to unlock the gate to escape Wonderland before we are all executed!

Teams of people all race against the clock to uncover clues and find the keys. The first to collect all the keys wins. It’s a well thought-out and fun game to play once you realise how interactive this experience is. Time flies as you shuttle yourself from one corner of the Southern Parklands to the other. Words of advice, wear sensible shoes and make sure you avoid the Queen and her minions, it could cost you dearly.

The game can be played as hard as you like depending on your level of competitive spirit. Some gung-ho families racked up points into the thousands, whereas others were quite happy to be found multiple times by the roaming characters. Personally, my team started off quite slow as the whole scenario was quite overwhelming at first and there could have been a bit more guidance before everyone was sent scrambling. But after a few small victories, we managed to come 7/11. Hey, at least we didn’t come last.

By the end, I was glad I had stepped outside of the “entertain me” bubble of sit-down Fringe shows and got a bit of exercise while I was at it. It was a frantically entertaining hour of riddles suitable for all ages.

4 stars

You can play Escape from Wonderland every Sunday until March 17. Pick up your ticket here.

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