So this past weekend I had the privilege of attending my second Secret Cinema event following the mind blowing Star Wars production that was put on during the summer of 2015.
So without any spoilers- here’s my review of Secret Cinema’s first production for 2016!
So leading up to the event I had managed pretty well to keep away from any internet spoilers or any hints about what the film might have been. The only clues: I was an airman, my girlfriend was another extension of the air force and her friend was a government official. Hmmm…
The interaction with Secret Cinema as is now to be expected was top notch. The links to websites and login areas uncovered a plethora of backstory and intricate detail which was just enough to leave you guessing about the event. This part of the show takes places weeks and months in advance where you are able to gain access to a “database” and uncover your character for the first time. Step forward Casey Hawk, US Air Man.
Fast forward to the event and the anticipation for the event begins as soon as you step foot outside your front door. Whether it’s a sense of trepidation of stepping out on a Sunday evening dressed head to toe as a 1940’s US Air Man, or it’s the fact that I actually did not know what film I was seeing; either way it was a fun process. En route to our destination we became the fascination for London commuters all around; a few double takes every few feet!
After reaching the destination area, we were stopped on several occasions by passers-by who were well aware that we were attending a Secret Cinema event but did not realise that there was one currently running (it’s a thing called the internet). Scuttling along the streets of London we approached the site of this events culmination and as is now customary with anything that Secret Cinema touches; no expense was spared. Now for those who would have seen the film before, it would have taken less than 5 minutes to work out which film we were due to be seated to watch later in the evening; I on the other hand- not a clue.
From here we were separated dependent on our roles and sent on our merry way to indulge and engage with the various areas and live performance actors. As you are lead through the brief “Welcome” process you are given set tasks/roles which you are asked to complete in order to truly immerse yourself in the universe of the film you are attending. The set(s) were amazing. The attention to detail and intricacy of elements which interplay across a vast area were phenomenal.
Now one of the key factors to a Secret Cinema experience is the ability to fully immerse yourself with characters and tasks to really make the event worthwhile. But if you aren’t given the opportunity then what’s the next viable option? The group I had be thrown together with had quickly ended up in a large gaggle of people who were queuing to interact with a character we needed to meet to get our first snippet of information; around 5 minutes. After this point we were directed to a secondary area and in the hustle and bustle of this busy “work place” the group ended up splintered and diverged on what they deemed to be the next course of action. Within about 10 minutes we had “decoded” our first mission and returned to our character lead who informed us that we had actually been the first group to complete our missions and were to (basically) head to the bar. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m good but not THAT good. Why send people on the “end game” mission in their first 15 minutes?!
As the evening unfolded I found that during my interactions with a character, another gentleman and I were tasked with recovering and getting an item to another actor in the same vicinity. After hanging around for around 3-4 minutes it was then decided that the character and I should find our comrade to whom we lasted 5 steps before the character was whisked away interacting with other event goers. Yes that’s correct- I was dumped by an actress in a fictional setting. How fiction reflects reality! Although not too much of an issue it just felt slightly indicative of the evening being very broken and perhaps misguided at times for the sheer number of people who were present at the event. Now before people gather the pitchforks and ring the church bells- I genuinely tried to immerse myself in the world, the environment and its characters it’s time period etc But it just didn’t click. Especially having found my girlfriend and her friend who, by description, had the most immersive of experiences- of which at 90 minutes in they were still on missions!
Secret Cinema is all about how much you immerse yourself and involve yourself in its world. I get that. The Star Wars event practically made my year. It made my girlfriend’s Top 3 things she had ever done; (second to me of course Whey!) Perhaps they set the bar too high? Maybe I was riding on a wave of Star Wars mania or maybe I, personally had set the bar so high for this event. But for me it felt like the stage had been set for you to falter within the first Act. Unfortunately it ended up feeling like a straight to DVD experience for me; but for others another box office experience!
Will I be heading to Secret Cinema 2017- Hell Yeah!