"Escape rooms" have become a trendy little amusement -- a group of people locked in a room with an hour deadline on solving how they get out. It's a great idea, and like any entertainment, varies in quality. The one the clan Keefauver beat a few months ago was mostly number puzzles, had fairly unimpressive production values, and I walked away going, "That wouldn't be too hard to come up with for a party."
At the time, however, I didn't really think about how easily the escape room genre could be adapted to the world of Sherlock Holmes. And maybe even improved upon as a result.
My first thought, based on my experience with the single escape room I was locked in, was that you'd need to obtain a series of Victorian locks. Sure, you could eBay search and maybe come up with those, but then I realized the true imprisonment device of the Victorian era: the great big thug.
Just put a great big thug in a chair in front of the door, and let the entire escape room mystery be trying to figure out just what to tell the great big thug to get him to let you out. He's a Moriarty man, of course, loyal and even a bit frightened of the Professor, so he's really not going to want to let you out. And maybe it's even his room you're trapped in with him, with enough personal effects lying around that your could piece together enough of his story . . . oh, even through observation of his person as well . . . that you come up with the line that ensures your freedom.
Coded and uncoded messages from Sherlock Holmes secreted about the room or in plain sight. Tie-ins to the Canon, both in objects and the mystery itself. Oh, a Sherlockian escape room could be a marvelous thing!
It would be a lovely addition to a Holmes symposium weekend . . . or maybe better at a con, where schedules are a little more flexible, and you could sign up for a time. And at a con, multiple parties could even come up with their own Sherlock-based escape rooms.
I really think I'm going to have to create one of these, to fulfill a promise to my brother, if nothing else, but I'm loving the fact that anyone could do it. The escape room adds a new wrinkle to the classic murder mystery dinner where someone has to pose as a corpse. It's still a mystery, just without the whole death thing and surrounding tropes.
You get to tell a Sherlock Holmes story with it, that people can live out for a time, and then actually see the people enjoying the tale (if you find a way to infiltrate the room -- or are a great big thug). What could be better than that?