Everyone loves a secret,to be part of a club. A chance to play and absorb yourself in a world removed from reality. Reinvention and the dawn of a new story are alluring concepts. It’s this has fuelled the success of Secret Cinema, and has meant that for each run thousands of people part with plenty of pounds and devote days of preparation to, essentially, watch a film they have probably seen many times before. This latest instalment of the immersive cinema experience is their 21st, and it’s something of a chic celebration. The experience starts as soon as you book. Dress code instructions are provided (1920s this time), and printed props provided. We’re encouraged to read manifestos from the ‘politicians’ from the world we will be entering, although on arrival it is clear who really runs the ‘town.’ Everyone is given an identity, necessary to vote on the day. It’s a world of illicit rendezvous and shady dealings, where from the moment you arrive everyone is in on the secret.
We are shepherded into the underworld. There are around three hours of ‘free time’ before the film, which is three hours to wander and explore the myriad of rooms given over to sets and scenes. Standing chatting to my friend we are suddenly whisked away into a whirlwind of drama as a ‘gun’ fires and a car whizzes into the midst of the crowd. We then wander up stairs and down stairs, and in every corner, as much as we seek proof that this is a modern building and we are in 2014, there seems to be no detail not covered, from posters to letters to drinks to window dressing. Attention to detail is exquisite, and is one of the reasons why more time is spent on the set than watching the film.
It can be tough. Actors play their characters constantly, and audiences are encouraged to be the same, making even simple questions such as ‘what time does the film start?’ impossible. This was my second Secret Cinema and was more of an experience than a great night out like the first, and at times we were a little unsure what to do with ourselves. The abrupt personas of the actors started to grate a little at times.
But this is why you have to leave the ‘real world’ outside (although where that real world and this fantasy one sit becomes increasingly blurred, as even windows down the street are done out in 1920s style). There’s liberation in giving yourself over to this adventurous and unpredictable world. Secret Cinema describe their fuel to be ‘a desire for serendipity, experiences and beautiful random happenings.’
Secret Cinema 21 is running until May 25th. Tell everyone.
Secret Cinema believes passionately in building a more romantic, adventurous and unpredictable world. We are fuelled by a desire for serendipity, experiences and beautiful random happenings.