The Tape Escape

Created by Vanessa Smythe, Mitchell Cushman and Nick Bottomley

Outside the March gives QUEEN VIDEO a re-birth with an immersive escape room experience that invites you to PUT YOUR LIFE ON PAUSE.

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. Disappear back into 1999 with this love-letter to the lost art of browsing. See if you can escape into (and out of) some of your favourite movies by selecting from our collection of “in store rentals”.

But chin up, Outside the March’s Popcorn Double Feature continues in October 2019 with The Flick


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?

Capacity: 8 customers.

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

 *Rated BN for Branching Narrative


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

Every year Gene’s older brother Kelly plans a special birthday treasure hunt for her in The Tape Escape – her favourite place. But Gene’s experience of the world is changing, and her 9th birthday calls 
for a different kind of present. Created in collaboration with blind artist 
Devon Healey, this rental experience explores how we experience movies – and each other – when our sighted experience changes. To read more about Devon’s work, check out this interview. For more information about accessibility, scroll down to our FAQ below. 

Capacity: 4 customers.

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

 *RATED X for Marks the Spot


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.

Capacity: 5 customers.

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

 *Rated DV for Deja Vu


An Outside the March Experience
in association with David Versus Goliath ProductionsLeading Season Supporters
Audrey S. Hellyer Charitable Foundation
Tamara Zielony
Susanne Boyce
Q Media
Artistic Accomplice Program Lead Supporter
David Binet



I keep hearing THE TAPE ESCAPE is like an escape room. What is that?
Escape rooms are live, team-based games where players work together to find clues and solve a series of puzzles in a limited amount of time in order to achieve a specific goal – often that means trying to “escape” in a fictional scenario, e.g. breaking out of a jail cell.

So is The Tape Escape an escape room?
Sort of. There’s no actual escaping. But it does use some of the same principles as escape rooms, like working collaboratively to solve a series of puzzles in a set amount of time. Think of it like a puzzle-infused scavenger hunt through an art installation.

Will I be locked in a room?
No. It’s not theatre, where they shut you in a big dark room with hundreds of strangers and force you to sit there for 3+ hours. By the way, have you read about our upcoming production of The Flick?

Wait, it’s not theatre?
What even IS theatre, man?

If I’ve never done an escape room – is this for me? / If I’m an escape room pro, will I be bored?
The Tape Escape has been designed to cater to a range of experiences. There are lots of hidden easter eggs and serious challenges for hardcore puzzling aficionados. It’s also designed to serve as a gentle introduction to escape room-type experiences for those who’ve never tried one.

If you’ve never done an escape room before, Love Without Late Fees is your best bet. Read on for more about our “in-store rentals.”

If I can’t solve the puzzles, will I fail?
Unlike many escape rooms, The Tape Escape’s three experiences aren’t based on a strict solved/unsolved metric for success. They’re narrative experiences. Successfully solving puzzles will lead you down one path, unsuccessfully solving them will lead you down others…

I like crosswords and sudoku. Will I be good at your puzzles?
Can’t hurt.

I’m terrible at crosswords and sudoku. Am I screwed?
‘Screwed’ is harsh. Being a movie lover is actually more of an asset. Bring friends.


What is an “in-store rental”?
Instead of taking your rental home like at most movie rental stores, at The Tape Escape your “rental” is one of three 1-hour long experiences that take place in the store itself.

So wait, how does that work?
There are three in-store rentals available: A Grown Up’s Guide to Flying, Love Without Late Fees and Yesterday’s Heroes. All three run on rotation throughout the day, Wednesday-Sunday. When you book your tickets, you’ll select a single time slot for a single in-store rental.

Can I do it with friends?
Yes! Each rental has a finite capacity: four customers for Grown Up’s Guide and Yesterday’s Heroes and eight customers for Love Without Late Fees. You can either book your friends’ tickets for them, or encourage them to buy for the same time slot as you.

Is there a chance I’ll get stuck with strangers?
Yes! Tickets to each time slot remain on sale until capacity is filled up. So if you don’t completely book out a time slot, you may end up completing the experience with YOUR NEW BEST FRIENDS.

How long does each in-store rental take?
Plan for one hour and show up promptly for your time slot!

Is this appropriate for kids?
Depends on the kids. Kids 10yrs and younger probably won’t get much out of the experience. 10yrs+ would definitely dig it, especially if they like puzzles and have a grown-up to accompany them. Heads up, Love Without Late Fees has some grown-up content matter.

Why a VHS rental store?
Come find out for yourself.

Will this satisfy my unconscious desire to relive my childhood because of the 30-year-nostalgia-pendulum that says consumers of culture invariably become creators in adulthood?


I love The Tape Escape
–thank you so much.

–please don’t interrupt. I love The Tape Escape: do I get a deal if I book more than one rental?
No, but you’re already getting a deal! We’re a not-for-profit theatre company and for this experience we wanted to keep tickets prices to the absolute minimum so that they can be accessible to all. Whereas many escape rooms cost upwards of $50, each Tape Escape rental is only $25 plus taxes and fees, meaning we’ve already done our best to make sure you’re getting a great deal.

You said tickets are $25, but I’m seeing $31.95. What kind of grift is this?
The ticket is $25, then there’s taxes and credit card/processing fees. Compared to most escape rooms that’s still super reasonable, my dude.

So how do I book tickets?
Scroll up or click here to find the calendar. It’s not like most theatre box offices because the booking system has more in common with escape rooms: just select the date you want to book, then the in-store rental to the right. In the pop up window, select your time slot and how many tickets you want. The rest is pretty straightforward.

If you want to book more than one rental, just start the process over. There isn’t a way to book more than one in-store rental at once.

I’d rather book over the phone. Can I do that?
Yes! The Tape Escape front desk can do that. Call anytime Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm: 647-764-2757.


Where is it?
We’re located at 480 Bloor St. West, just east of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. The Bathurst Subway Station is just 230 metres away. If you’re coming from the subway, walk south to Bloor St., turn left and walk east 150 metres, crossing Albany Ave. We’re on the north side of the street, next to Japan Sushi.

Heads up: unfortunately there is construction happening on Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina. The sidewalks are clear, but driving/biking can be slow.

Is there parking?
Not directly on Bloor St., but there is a Green P nearby at 557 Palmerston Ave.

Is there somewhere I can leave my valuables?
Yes, we have small lockers for your stuff.

Is there a washroom on site?
No. But there are washrooms located at Aroma Cafe, our neighbours just down the street. They’re located 60 metres west on Bloor St. across Albany Ave., on the same side of the street as The Tape Escape. They have two, gender-neutral, single stall washrooms and a single accessible washroom. 

And once your bladder’s empty, fill it back up again: just show your Tape Escape ticket and get 10% off your order!

I have specific mobility needs. What are my options?
Because each in-store rental is different, the easiest way to learn more about The Tape Escape’s physical accessibility is to give us a call at 647-764-2757 or to send Managing Producer Katherine an email at

Love Without Late Fees has very few physical barriers and can accommodate most wheelchairs, walkers and physical accessibility needs. It requires intermittent movement around the store’s first floor (about as much as it takes to browse through an independent video store). There are foldable chairs available for renters who’d prefer to sit when possible.

A Grown Up’s Guide to Flying and Yesterday’s Heroes are not barrier free and include stairs and some confined spaces. Part of Yesterday’s Heroes takes place in an area of the store with a 6ft ceiling height.

I’m partially-sighted/blind and I hear one of your rentals can accommodate my needs?
You heard right! A Grown Up’s Guide to Flying is designed to accommodate blind and low-vision audiences members. This is something we’ve never done before and we’re actively working to make the experience worthwhile for audience members with any level of sight. Please contact us before booking to ensure we can best meet your accessibility needs: 647-764-2757 or send Managing Producer Katherine an email at

I’m deaf. Can any of your rentals accommodate my needs?
To some extent. If you have an interpreter you’ll be able to fully participate in most of the experiences, but there is some content/a few puzzles that rely heavily on audio/music. Interpreters don’t require a separate ticket. Get in touch to chat about your needs and we’ll do our darndest to accommodate.

I’m hungry.
Cool. We have amazing neighbours who can help you out! Just show your ticket and get 10% off Aroma Cafe – Bloor West, 10% off Pi Co – Bloor West and 20% off food (not booze) at Insomnia Restaurant and Lounge!

THE TAPE ESCAPE is part of The Popcorn Double Feature. Also be sure to check out OtM’s upcoming production of Annie Baker’s THE FLICK

*This project received development workshops and public showings in 2017 and 2018 in partnership with The Kick and Push Festival in Kingston, Ontario.


  • Opens July 4, 2019

480 Bloor Street West
(former home of Queen Video)

The Tape Escape defies categorization and delivers a singular experience

The Toronto Star


The Toronto Star

a fully-immersive space that’s an art installation in its own right

Mooney On Theatre


Mooney On Theatre

the attention to detail in the store is dizzying

The Toronto Star


The Toronto Star

Whether you’re a ‘90s kid in the mood to relish in nostalgia, an immersive theatre-lover, escape room aficionado or just looking for a fun and unique experience to try with a group of friends, The Tape Escape has you covered.

Mooney On Theatre


Mooney On Theatre

a delightful nostalgia trip

The Toronto Star


The Toronto Star

a constant thrill of surprise

The Toronto Star


The Toronto Star

Go once, twice or thrice. (Perhaps between Fringe shows?) OtM shows sell out quickly.

NOW Magazine


NOW Magazine

Outside the March’s latest site-specific marvel

NOW Toronto


NOW Toronto

My sense of play and imagination was reawakened in the intricately woven story and beautifully realized space; I truly felt I was solving a mystery in an actual video rental shop.

Toronto Guardian


Toronto Guardian


The Toronto Star:
“the most ambitious project yet forthe endlessly inventive immersive theatre company

“a constant thrill of surprise”

“the attention to detail in the store is dizzying”

“The Tape Escape defies categorization and delivers a singular experience” 

NOW Magazine:
“go once, twice or thrice. (Perhaps between Fringe shows?) OtM shows sell out quickly”

“The Tape Escape’s immersive escape room experiences will reel you in” 

“Outside the March’s latest site-specific marvel” 

Mooney On Theatre:
“a delightful nostalgia trip” 

“Whether you’re a ‘90s kid in the mood to relish in nostalgia, an immersive theatre-lover, escape room aficionado or just looking for a fun and unique experience to try with a group of friends, The Tape Escape has you covered.” 

Toronto Guardian:
My sense of play and imagination was reawakened in the intricately woven story and beautifully realized space; I truly felt I was solving a mystery in an actual video rental shop.


REVIEW: The Toronto Star

REVIEW: Toronto Guardian

REVIEW: The Globe and Mail

REVIEW: Mooney on Theatre


NOW Magazine: Best Weekend Events in Toronto

The Daily Hive: “Annex Queen Video has been transformed into a brand new escape room”

She Does The City: “Video Store Resurrected: Anahita Dehbonehie on Designing “The Tape Escape”

The Toronto Star: “Outside the March Takes Its Audience to the Movies”

TRNTO: “Immersive theatre production opens in former Toronto video store”

NOW Magazine: “The Best Stage Shows in Toronto This Summer”

Toronto Guardian: “Immersive theatre experience to take over Queen Video on Bloor this summer”

No Proscenium: “VHS-Themed ‘The Tape Escape’ to Blend Escape Rooms and Immersive Theatre”