Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Secret Cinema - is it worth your time?

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Making babies

"Tell no one" says the email confirmation from Secret Cinema. We didn't know the location until a few days before the event. We weren't told the movie that would be played. Curiously, everyone who turned up were encouraged to take photos and video clips, and post them on social media on the spot. I guess publicity trumps secrecy at the end of the day.

After booking a matinee show on a weekend only to have it cancelled "due to licensing issues", we were given an exchange of tickets for only sessions that ends late into the night. We decided to go for that anyway, got a babysitter and ended up paying her cab fare after that - travel to that remote location takes around 90 min one way. After all, everyone who has been to Secret Cinema's earlier sessions say that we should try it at least once.

It started off badly

It didn't started well. We were halfway there when I realised that we were supposed to bring along certain items. We made a frantic search for them amongst the few shops still opened on a late Sunday afternoon. While queuing in one of the five entrances, I noticed that there was a mention of a pen on the ticket. A quick dash to the Tesco Metro resolved that - its security guard lent me his.

The it became apparent that there was a dress code. Everyone was in formal office wear. The men came decked in suits and ties, and the women in high heels with some sporting one of those Ascot hats. Me? I was in a sweater and jeans. I don't suppose Tesco Metro stock suits, do they?

Anyway, Wife went in through a seperate entrance. That didn't matter because everyone whipped out their mobile phones the chance they have to link up within the building.

And the experience begins...

Depending on how we responded to an earlier survey, we were allocated to different details and given different tasks. In a way, the entire thing was well thought out with different rooms, corners and activities depicting particular scenes on the movie that would be shown later.

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The baby making factory

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Make way for the dancers!

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We went into the dark room and this despairing scene greeted us

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Chat with the machine, shout out your order and drop your money in

The entire setup looked like a more coordinated freshman orientation with a theme run very motivated people. Throughout the entire session, there were people dressed up as characters in the movie performing antics to drum up the atmosphere. There were two women catfighting (apparently over a man) and a few others trying to break them up, "security" staff patrolling, men in suits running down the hallways, a man in his boxers surrounded by shreds of paper lamenting his loss, just to name a few. There were a number of interactive activities as well. One of which saw two actors acting out your dreams (which you had written down on a slip of paper), whatever they might be.

Some scenes were even hidden from plain view. I chanced upon a few people dressed in hazard suits playing volleyball (a fleeting scene in the movie) behind a door that said "Do Not Open". Halfway through my exploration, I was "arrested" by a security personnel in riot gear and was black bagged only to be paraded through the entire building and finally released on the 10th floor because of mistaken identity.

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Is it all worth it? Well...

If you are looking for a slick setup for the £43.50 ticket you bought, you'd be in for a huge disappointment. Your experience would vary from the next person and depends on your willingness to participate. Wife had her nails painted in the process while I sat through a vulva sale (seriously!) after a shoulder massage. It came to the point where the movie didn't matter anymore.

Everything cost though. I would have thought at least the first round of drinks was free. Nope, even the popcorn went for £2 per bag. And if you fancy a soft drink from the talking vending machine, that would be £1.50.

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