Secret Cinema is the kind of thing I am least likely to want to go to.
It is part immersive theatre, part watching a film in public. I hate the cinema. HATE it. Not the actual idea of films, but the physical theatre – sitting with a bunch of rustling morons texting their stupid friends and eating YUCK and talking URGH Jesus drives me utterly mental.
So when my friend Max said “I’m running Secret Cinema now, you must come along” I gave him epic side-eye.
“No but really you’ll love it,” bellowed Max, because Max is a giant Scotsman, possibly deaf, now I come to think of it, considering how loudly he talks at all times.
He also has a terrifying laugh, like an arch-villain who has just pressed a button to blow up Lithuania for fun. “OOAA HA HA HA,” he goes. “HAA HA HAAAAAAA!”
Occasionally, just to wrong-foot you, Max will make you drink 19 shots in a row and start a conversation about string theory. Max has the constitution of an ox – no not an ox, because an ox would never go out until 5am and then fly to New York for a high pressure meeting with, like, a Russian, and declare himself truthfully to feel “fine”.
So – Secret Cinema? No thanks.
But you see I’ve got this friend, Simon. And Simon lives for shit like this and there were free tickets and it had just been his birthday so I said “Let’s go.”
The film on was Blade Runner and I’ll come clean; I was dreading it. I’ve never seen Blade Runner, don’t give a fig for it. The event space was miles away and I just, it’s just…. it’s just not me.
But there was Simon. And I couldn’t wriggle out. I put on my costume of sorts, (you can dress up as much or as little as you like – there were people who’d made NO effort), patted black stuff round my eyes, did a shot with Simon in my kitchen, got in an Uber, went along and had the most fantastic time.
It was partly the drink (but isn’t anything?) There are lots of bars, all easily-accessible, all taking contactless payment. There was also a noodle bar (Blade Runner, get it?) serving honest-to-god the best szechuan noodles I’ve ever had – and as you can imagine, I’ve had a few. Giles really would hate Secret Cinema and so wasn’t there, but I was genuinely sad he didn’t come to try the noodles.
I watched the first bit of the film, then stumbled back out to the bar, had more drinks, set off from Canning Town at around 10 and was home by 10.45, off my fucking blot.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS?
It is about an hour and a half-ish of immersive theatre, (which you can take part in or just observe, there’s no pressure), which takes place in an incredibly carefully-construted and realistic “set”, staffed by a lot of actors. You can wander about in rooms recreated from the film. I mean if this was Raiders of the Lost Ark I would have been on my knees, weeping, overwhelmed to be able to be in my best film. But it was Blade Runner, so I was merely massively impressed. They made it rain! They made it rain inside.
There are the aforementioned bars and places to get delicious food. You can opt into the drama and follow a “storyline” or, like I did, just drink. Simon tried to get involved but I just pointed and laughed.
Then follows the movie that you can watch or not watch, depending on how dedicated/pissed you are.
The next production is the Baz Luhrman Romeo & Juliet and I urge you to consider going. It will be in London in a “secret location” which I will get in trouble for revealing but it’s not Canning Town and the action starts early, from 6pm, so you will most likely need to skip bath and bedtime for this.
The food, I’m informed, (because I know you, like me, freak out if you think you might miss your dinner), will be Tex/Mex and Italian – representing the two houses of Montague and Capulet and if the food is anything like those noodles I’m going for dinner alone. Vegans and vegetarians are fully catered for.
The show runs from 8th August – 25th August, tickets start at £49 – you can find out more here.
Any questions? You know where to find me.