Nobody does it quite like Secret Cinema.
From Moulin Rouge to Blade Runner, 28 Days Later to Star Wars, the team has allowed film fans to live out their big screen fantasies in a way never seen before. What could be more perfect for their next project than Romeo and Juliet, filtered through Baz Luhrman’s gloriously hedonistic lense?
I confess to being a huge fan of these OTT productions but also have a personal preference for the indoor productions.
For me, this latest event is a night of two halves, one pretty entertaining and the other dazzling.
The (as always) secret location this time, is another London park. Nothing beats trekking down Residential London street in crazy costumes while motorists and pedestrians look on in bemusement.
It is wonderfully bonding and strangely liberating.
Strangely, then, it is not the weather that gives me pause. We were showered on throughout the evening but this somehow only made the experience more intense, more Shakesperian even. The audience hunkered down, pulled out brollies and pacamacks and declared their devotion to the communal experience.
I simply find that the outside set-up has too much open space to effectively create a full atmosphere or blank out the real world.
The tireless performers, as always, throw themselves into the role play and there are various venues and special pop-up shows, but it all feels a little disjointed. It is only when night falls and reality is allowed to recede that the magic really begins.
When the sky darkens, the sets are illuminated in isolation and suddenly shine. Suddenly we are no longer in a dusty London field.
And then the main stage erupts in spectacular revelry and the evening is totally and tremendously transformed.
We already know what an exhilarating, extraordinary and excessive delight the movie is, but Secret Cinema always excels at adding another dimension.
It tingles the spine as certain familair scenes are brought to life in front of the audience and sometime even in amongst us.
Much of the audience was fuelled on Leo-love for the heartthrob leading man and screams rang across the park as he appeared on screen and before us.
As the fim builds inexorably to its tragic climax, the drama is happening above us on the giant screen, before our eyes on the stages and right in our our feverishly overstimulated imaginations.
I’m not convinced the silhouette technique used for certain tableaux is entirely convincing but the utterly beautiful final Secret Cinema flourish in those last heatbreaking scenes gave me chills.
This is not their greatest achievement but is still an undeniably entertaining night out, especially if you come in a group and get your full Montague or Capulet on.
SECRET CINEMA PRESENTS WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO + JULIET RUNS UNTIL AUGUST 25