We Still Fax at ANTS Theatre Online
At 5pm there’s a knock at the door; left on the stoop is a large, square package with “PULL TO OPEN” emblazoned across the top. At 7pm there’s a phone call: it’s now safe to open this delivery. Inside, beneath the careful casing and trans-dimensional protection materials (foil blankets), lies a daunting device that is totally alien to anyone under the age of 25: a fax machine.
A new project from ANTS Theatre, We Still Fax is an escape room/immersive theatre hybrid that brings the dual thrills of code-cracking and live performance into its audience’s homes. After a quick set-up, the show begins in earnest and does the impossible: it cuts through the mind-numbing drudgery of Lockdown 3.0, and makes sending faxes feel cool.
Over the span of 90 or so minutes, players explore every facet of this mysterious contraption and solve coded messages from alternate dimensions. With assistance from an enigmatic helpline, the puzzles stack up quickly, immersing the users in a fax-filled web of intrigue… which is just a way of saying it’s like doing an escape room but from the comfort of home. After a year that has made the world rely on the Internet for everyday life, the lo-fi nature of faxing really is surprisingly refreshing. And the sense of accomplishment from finishing the machine is very real – it’s actually quite challenging at times, making the “journey” all the more enjoyable.
Not only that, ANTS Theatre have an extra trick up their sleeve: in the final fax of the show, players are invited to “search for any easter eggs” that they “may have missed” in their travels. Although these extra additions sometimes feel like red herrings (there’s a risk of trying to decode some hidden numbers only to realise that they mean nothing!), this isn’t a new feeling to escape room fans. What is new, however, is the visceral rush of discovering one of these easter eggs, and enjoying an extra bit of lore that others may have missed.
Moreover, the experience really does imbue theatrical sensibilities into the escape room format. Beyond the codebreaking and clue-finding, there’s a precious tale of technology and connection, almost like a wholesome version of Black Mirror. Featuring fictional versions of Elon Musk and Tim Berners-Lee, this hidden story explores the weird world of Universe 3.142, a semi-dystopian mirror of our own existence. When Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, he famously quipped “This is for everyone.” We Still Fax reveals the shocking reality of what would happen if it wasn’t.
Really, there’s so much to gush about in this show, from the imaginative delivery to the perplexing puzzles to the quirky anti-humour woven throughout (“Try your hardest not to intimidate the machine”). Atmospheric, engrossing, and utterly unpredictable, We Still Fax is the most original piece of theatre you’ll experience in 2021, locked-down or not.
We Still Fax is available to stream from 17th December until 31st March 2021. For further information or to book visit ANTS theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the experience here: