We went to the all too secret London location to try out Secret Cinema presents Casino Royale for ourselves, doing our best to get caught up in the immersive theatre.
Follow the action – that’s rule number one at Secret Cinema.
If someone’s having a shootout in an airport, don’t run away from it. Don’t just stand at a distance either. Get on in there and take part a little. Get yourself a front row seat to the interactive fun.
And this has never been so important a thing to know when heading to Secret Cinema. Because, this year, the entire world they’ve created for Casino Royale is enormous. We spent hours walking around and we’re pretty sure we still missed out on bits. And while the sheer scale of the project is overwhelmingly cool, it can mean you miss out on a lot.
At one point we were eating burgers in Madagascar, watching some singers and boxers play about while having a little groove of our own – but unbeknownst to us the main story we were meant to be following was actually happening around the corner. So don’t get too distracted by waiting for food, lining up for drinks or heading to and from the lockers to change out of uncomfortable shoes. Be on the lookout for the actors running around you and follow them wherever they go.
If they interact with you, go with it. Laughing at them or acting scared is only going to slow things down. Keep the pace up. Help them find the bad guys. Be a good spy. You are a secret agent after all.
And really do try to play along with the game. They’ve created a story for you to follow yourselves – find the bad guys trying to launder money through the casino by travelling around the world to their last known location.
Stories unfold in each location, with some actors ready to be grilled by operatives upstairs in the interrogation room.
You then get to watch the film while actors re-enact parts of it throughout the whole thing. Luxury cars will drive around, people will drop from the ceiling, bad guys will get chased up and down ladders and there’s plenty of pyrotechnics to help everything along, too. It all enhances the action and suspense of the film brilliantly.
But, after all of the festivities, one of our favourite elements of Secret Cinema was cut. The after party. Usually, you’d end the night drinking and dancing around the space for a few more hours. You party in the Moulin Rouge or dance in the futuristic Blade Runner market under artificially created rain.
Apparently, this was because the film is so long and the local council wouldn’t let them stay open so late. This was a bummer. Dancing around in costume to all the hits within the incredibly detailed sets is a whole lot of fun.
And, although the large scale of the experience was impressive and made for enjoyable wanderings, we were sad to feel a little lost and as if we weren’t a part of the whole spectacle at times.
In previous years, the actors would gather you together to be a part of the main action. It was vast but intimate at the same time. They increased the size but lost the intimacy – the feeling that you were really a part of the story. At times, we felt more like a spectator which was a bit of a shame.
This doesn’t mean we didn’t have a crazy fun time. It was still a great alternative night out unlike any other hosted in London.We just hope that Stranger Things (the next experience starting in November) better reflects the original concept where people are fully immersed into the world and become a part of the film itself, getting swept up in the magic they create. Size sometimes isn’t everything.