STORY WRITTEN BY MARGIE ROYAL
Digital First Media
After the success of last spring’s “Escape From Jekyll’s Lab,” which Rosemary Fox organized with help from fellow Swarthmore Town Center board members, Fox decided to form her own production company and produce live Escape Games. With business partner Carlin McCoy, Life is Short Productions has been launched. It’s the first Delaware County company producing such events, and the duo, who are both residents of Swarthmore, hope to bring many more “escape the room” adventures to the area throughout the year. Now through Dec. 31, their first production, “Xscape the Basement,” is underway.
For those unfamiliar with the Escape The Room concept, it was spawned from an addictive computer game (which can be downloaded to your cell phone). Escape the Room games challenge players to find clues and items that will help them escape a room before the clock runs out of time. Following the popularity of the computer game, live Escape the Room events began to crop up in cities. Fox became enchanted with the concept after experiencing such an event in Philadelphia. She was the driving force behind “Escape From Jekyll’s Lab,” the first such event held in Delaware County last spring. Those who enjoyed “Jekyll’s Lab,” will likely also enjoy “Xscape the Basement.”
For Fox and her husband, who are raising three daughters in Swarthmore, having such a company seems a natural fit.
“From the age of 13 to 18 I studied my craft at Hedgerow Theatre alongside wonderful theatre artists. After earning BA in acting and directing from DeSales University, I moved to NYC were I was a founding member of The Hidden Signal theatre company. After three years, I moved back to Philly where I started my own theatre company (The Fictitious Theatre Company) and worked with other professional theatres as actor, director and producer. I have conducted playwriting workshops with the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Workshop, and taught voice over technique at Mike Lemon Casting. I have also worked professionally in television and radio commercials,” her bio states.
Fox’s involvement with theater definitely has given her a great understanding of the importance of plot, setting, music, mood and pacing. Attendees experiencing “Escape From Jekyll’s Lab” last spring were impressed by the actor she cast to portray Dr. Jekyll and the detailed setting, props, lighting, music and story line. The hour flew by swiftly our group frantically searched for the antidote which would keep Dr. Jekyll from transforming into Mr. Hyde. We didn’t find it.
In “Xscape The Basement,” Fox and McCoy play on fears of being locked in a creepy basement. We’ve all heard true stories of bodies being buried in basements and there have been many horror movies where we sit on the edge of our seats as we watch the protagonist stupidly go down into the cellar. All of that has us culturally pre-conditioned to feel uneasy at thought of being locked in an underground room. “Xscape the Room” plays on these fears.
The duo said they spent months creating the game and let the space – in this case – a basement underneath a law office on Third Street in Media- determine the type of game they would create. I and two friends joined a group of women who were celebrating one of their friend’s birthdays. The friends were from all over the area: Norristown, Havertown, Bala Cynwood, Wayne and Philadelphia. Luckily for me, one of them was a big fan of live escape the room events and very good at puzzle-solving. She took the lead and had us all working as a team to find a way out of the basement as a digital clock ticked away. We were locked in a psychopath’s basement and the goal was to find all the clues hidden amid childhood toys and locked trunks. The task was to solve all the puzzles and find the key to exit the room before the psycho – who visited us a few times during the hour –returned to finish us off. Our team did manage to escape the room –with 14 minutes to spare.
As they headed out to check the dining spots in downtown Media after escaping the basement, one of the women commented, “That was awesome.” And it was!
IF YOU GO: Tickets are $27. Teamwork and quick thinking is required as you’ll likely be depending on strangers who will be locked in the room with you. Or get 10 friends to buy tickets, and you’ll experience a fun evening together searching for clues and trying to solve puzzles, riddles, and logic problems. The “Xscape the Basement” event is at 13 E. 3rd Street, Media. The event is age 18+ (or 12+ with a parent/guardian and signed waiver). For details and tickets, visit www.xscapetheroom.com.