Ninth Life: The Viewing – review – no spoilers!

Lewisham borough’s oldest pub has undergone a major refurb and reopened in February as Ninth Life – a three-floor, high-ceilinged beautiful piece of real estate in Catford’s Rushey Green.

The pub itself is well thought out, attracting a mix of traditional beer drinkers and the young hipster crowd who have moved in more recent years. The large outdoor space is home to food trucks and local microbreweries like Brockley Brewery share tap space with Brighton-based Laine – a nod to the founder company’s origins.

Conceived by Dan Hills (Laines) Dr Claire MacNeill (Mash Up productions) and Ben Tucker (Buck Buck games); with Natasha Coverdale (studio Coverdale) leading on the Art Direction, The Viewing plays neatly on the idea that Catford is being gentrified by an influx of young professionals (my mum lived there in the 70s when Catford was poor as a penny, and when I showed her the price of her old house she nearly fainted).

The audience are cast as hungry flat-hunters and a dodgy local estate agent firm has arrived to show us around the flat above the pub. However, Billy, a builder working on the refurb, has recently disappeared and so the audience/gamers must try to find him..

One traditional escape the room game does feature, but the other rooms are much more immersive, with characters and clues hidden around the space.

The show has only been open for three weeks but the actors have already settled into their roles – the estate agent was teeth-on-edge smarmy and the characters in the various rooms managed to not to be too heavy-handed with hinting at the answers to the puzzles.

While the overall plot is a fairly loose one, the actors and sets make for a really fun evening. The actors have really thought about their characters and it’s really hard to catch them out – they were all really up for banter! It’s not as detailed or beautifully choreographed as a Punchdrunk show, but then it costs a ninth of the price of one, and you don’t have to enter a ballot to go to it.

The price for a ticket is £25 and for that you get an average of two shots of gin a drink at the bar and about an hour of entertainment across nine rooms, which in my view is an absolute bargain.

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