Stage Door News

Toronto: Outside the March reveals dates for its escape room experience “The Tape Escape”

Monday, May 13, 2019

Following the recent announcement of their 10th anniversary season programming last month - THE POPCORN DOUBLE FEATURE - Outside the March is pleased to announce dates and additional details for the innovative immersive escape room experience THE TAPE ESCAPE.  This new theatre/game hybrid experience will open its doors to the public July 4th, 2019. Tickets for the series of 1-hour experiences that make up The Tape Escape go on sale today at

Co-created by Outside the March Artistic Director Mitchell Cushman, writer and performer Vanessa Smythe and video artist Nick Bottomley, THE TAPE ESCAPE is Outside the March’s foray into the booming world of escape rooms—a series of story-based, puzzle-infused mysteries staged inside of a brick-and-mortar VHS rental store. Step back into the world of the 1990s with this love letter to the lost art of browsing, created in an installation of over 5000 VHS tapes. Audiences will experience the show in small groups, solving a series of movie-themed puzzles and mysteries to uncover the untold tales of the store’s staff and membership base

Most video stores let you take the movies home. But at THE TAPE ESCAPE, the rentals happen to you, pulling you deep inside its collection of thousands of VHS Tapes. In a nod to Groundhog Day, this video store eternally relives a single day in 1999. But the project’s impetus is more pressing than ever. THE TAPE ESCAPE will inherit the former venue of the historic Queen Video, which sadly closed its doors just a few weeks ago on April 30th ending a record 38 years in business -  the longest running video rental operation in Canada. “THE TAPE ESCAPE will honour the history of the space,” promises OtM AD Mitchell Cushman, “continuing the storefront’s identity as a community gathering space for film-lovers citywide.” 
There’s a hard-to-articulate sense of loss that feels tangled up with the closing of our last remaining video stores,” says co-creator Vanessa Smythe. “I remember going on my first date to a video store, walking the aisles and imagining our different possible futures depending on which movies we drew closer to. Now, when I pick up a tape, I remember how I felt when I first watched it. What frightened me. Which character made me sweat. Who kept me company when I felt all alone. THE TAPE ESCAPE will recreate that space of playground and possibility.”

The escape room format is a bit of misnomer adds co-creator Bottomley, “we don’t want you to escape from the past, we want you to linger in it!”

THE TAPE ESCAPE opens July 4, 2019 and runs Wednesday-Sunday, with one-hour experiences running daily from 1:00 PM - 11:00 PM. THE TAPE ESCAPE is created by Vanessa Smythe, Mitchell Cushman and Nick Bottomley. With Production Design by Anahita Dehbonehie (Dr. Silver, Vitals)  and Nick Blais (Jerusalem, Dr. Silver).  For more information and tickets, visit

Visitors to THE TAPE ESCAPE can choose from one of three different stories to follow:

Love Without Late Fees
Six Tapes to Find the One

More than just a video store, The Tape Escape runs its own matchmaking service—pairing up movie-lovers in its customer date-a-base. Two single renters jumpstart their relationship by sharing six video rentals. Because, as we all know, watching the right movie, at the right time, can ensure that ride off into the sunset. So many tapes to choose from, so many possible futures. Can you rent your way to happily ever after?  

Rent this if you like: When Harry Met Sally, Sliding Doors, Run Lola Run

A Grown-Up’s Guide to Flying
Second shelf on the right and straight on ‘til morning 

Gene may be the shortest kid in her class, but you’d never know it, given her sophisticated taste in cinema. On the auspicious occasion of her 8th birthday, Gene’s favourite person leads her on a treasure hunt through the nooks, crannies and shadows of the neighborhood video store. Before she’s finished, Gene will soar in ways she could never have imagined, and experience the world of film through a whole new lens.

Rent this if you like: Hook, Scent of a Woman, Singing in the Rain

Yesterday’s Heroes
Embark into What Was

Some say that physical objects have a better memory than a hard drive. Buried somewhere inside the walls of The Tape Escape, a whispering voice calls out to you again and again. Venture on a quest through shelves overflowing with stories to find the one that can’t be recorded over. There's something deeper in store, but you might have to uproot the past to unlock the future.

Rent this if you like: Groundhog Day, Fern Gully, 12 Monkeys. 

About The Popcorn Double Feature

The first of two proudly analog movie-loving experiences harkening back to yesteryear—or at least to the days before Netflix and Amazon Prime, THE TAPE ESCAPE, will be followed in October with the Canadian Premiere of Annie Baker’s critically-acclaimed The Flick.  Produced by Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre, The Flick is set in an independent movie theatre, where three ushers navigate life making $8.25/hour as they attend to the last 35mm film projector in town. This is Baker’s masterwork—a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.

Following OtM’s explosive, Dora-Award winning sold-out run of Jerusalem in 2018, OtM returns to Streetcar Crowsnest. This time OtM will transform both the theatre and lobby into The Flick Cinema for another unmissable immersive event.

The ‘Popcorn Double Feature’ hashtags: #Flicksinthe6ix #TapeEscapeTO 
Twitter: @OutsideTheMarch 
Facebook: @OutsideTheMarch