Theatre review: Secret Cinema (Tell No One)

Written by David Singleton on 4 March 2016 in Culture
The latest creation features plenty of postwar military paraphernalia, a six-screen auditorium - and clips of Tony Blair and David Cameron.

Secret Cinema is getting serious. After productions of Ghost Busters, Star Wars and Back To The Future, the latest offering from the immersive film/theatre company tackles nuclear warfare and communist conspiracies with the help of 35 actors in a cavernous warehouse boasting a six-screen auditorium. It is an impressive set-up and makes for a seriously enjoyable evening.

This time around, Secret Cinema insists that the both the location of the event and the identity of the film remain under wraps. But the event's website has a few clues to the theme. It shows visitors a montage of grainy clips accompanied by the message: ‘Our secret war. It’s your world. Time to act.’

Participants are given an individual character identity and encouraged to dress accordingly. You are also provided with a map which shows the way from the nearest tube station. Upon arriving, you must seal your phone away and head to the correct entrance for your division. Prepare to be briefly separated from any companions as you report into your respective bosses.

From the outside, the austere setting does not look a million miles away from the military compound that viewers of Deutschland 83 will have become used to seeing on their screens in recent weeks. Inside, the various operations rooms are expertly decked out with typewriters, maps and other vintage props.

The place is buzzing with actors immaculately dressed in postwar military uniforms, who often bring the experience to life by barking orders at you or arguing with each other. You could be told to expose a communist or to crack a secret code. A few pyrotechnics also keep participants on their toes.



Food is served around the corner from the ops rooms in a canteen-style setting, while a few top-quality cocktails are for sale in the bar area. Enjoyably, neither environment is a safe haven from the actors. The bar staff are not out of character and the actors are never far away - shortly after purchasing a drink I found myself front of the queue to witness a full-blooded fist-fight.

As the evening goes on, more and more clues emerge as to what you could be viewing, before emergency klaxons demand that you vacate the compound - and head into the huge auditorium.

Ahead of the film, an opening montage features clips of politicians ranging Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Our own Tony Blair and David Cameron also feature in the security-themed package.

During the main screening, the sense of spectacle is enhanced by actors miming along to their characters on a central stage.

An explosion of confetti marks the end of the film but not the end of the evening, as the fun continues in another previously undiscovered area. The post-war nightclub has comfy sofa areas, a dancefloor and a live band who make it clear they are pleased to have survived the whole experience.

A few old faces from the military compound are also alive and well in the club, which is good to see - even if they had been yelling in your face a few hours earlier.



PHOTOS: Secret Cinema / Camilla Greenwell


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