If you’ve never been to a Secret Cinema event, you need to imagine a living, breathing recreation of a classic movie. At the crossroads between film and interactive theatre, it’s an experience unlike any other. Already, The Empire Strikes Back, Back To The Future and Blade Runner have been given the treatment. Now it’s the turn of James Bond movie, Casino Royale – Daniel Craig’s first outing as Ian Fleming’s suave spy, 007.
Over 10 years old, the “secret” is no longer about concealing the film, as it used to be, but about the events that take place once you arrive (so no spoilers here) at a covert London location. For Casino Royale, the build-up begins long before the day, with a Universal Exports website (the cover name for MI6 in the Bond movies) directing you to choose an alias for ‘Operation Wildcard’. I was Jaxx Balderstone, a tech entrepreneur. You’re encouraged to dress up, of course, and even bring business cards with your name and profession on.
Naturally, the more you put into your character and the more you interact, the more you will enjoy yourself. Given the hefty price tag – tickets range from £49 to £179, depending on whether you want a standard or VIP package – it’s advisable to get there early and soak up the atmosphere. After all, once the film starts, the chance to talk to M or any other character from the film will be gone. But spend enough time there, and you’ll get your own missions to carry out.
Working on their biggest canvas yet, the Secret Cinema team has beautifully recreated elements of the film (that will remain top secret here). There’s also plenty of food and drink to purchase (including Bond’s signature martini, of course) and the staff are all good-humoured. When I was asked for my name, to be written on the wrapper of the burger I ordered, I told the server ‘James’. “Bond?” she quipped back, with a smile.
Watching the film itself is an event, and if you want to upgrade to the premium seats, you’ll get waiter table service, which is a neat touch. Once the lights do down, parts of the film will be played out, theatrically, as the movie unspools. Perhaps it’s not exactly the best conditions to watch your favourite movie in, but you have to admire the bravura showmanship on offer. At times, the atmosphere is electric.
Secret Cinema Presents Casino Royale runs until 6 October. For more details, click here.