Secret Theatre Review

Secret Theatre

Unlike Stealers Wheels, I do know why I came here tonight.

To review Secret Theatre’s first London based production, and tonight’s entertainment promises to have a distinctly Tarantino inspired flavour.

Everything else is a bit of a mystery though, as you might expect of a show with a name like this.

And the theatre begins before you walk into the joint, as once you’ve bought tickets an email arrives giving you your alias for the night that you must use at all times.

Not to mention Secret Theatre’s top secret location, which I won’t.

On arriving, I receive a bullet and exchange this for some liquid refreshment at the pop up bar, where the speakeasy serving folk look into your eyes and call you by your new name.

Encouraged to dress for the occasion, there are plenty of dapper dan types strolling around in Reservoir Dogs themed outfits with obligatory shades, while songs from Quentin Tarantino’s extensive back catalogue of films is piped into our venue for the night.

Then there’s a girl called Claudia I end up sitting next to who’s brought some handcuffs along with her tonight, which seems less undercover agent and more under the covers provocateur to me.

But it’s all about the little details with a Secret Theatre experience, and these help get you in the mood for what’s to come.

A radio dj’s voice straight out of the seventies tells us to get ready for the show, and we’re swiftly introduced to our over the top narrator come detective for the night.

We’re all new recruits for this shouty copper’s undercover training programme, and he says he wants to tell us a story about the greatest secret agent man who ever worked for him.

Cue Reservoir Dogs music and the ensemble cast entering stage left in suitably sharp suits, but sadly not in slow motion.

What follows is the classic restaurant scene from this Tarantino film, though I think it might have been given a British twist to make it more palatable for a London audience.

From Secret Theatre’s artwork, I’d half expected a mash up featuring scenes from all of Tarantino’s most iconic early films.

Secret Theatre

Instead, with an Irish joker to the left of me and Claudia to the right, here I am stuck with a reinterpretation of Reservoir Dogs to review.

Admittedly, said joker was in tow with me as I’d brought him along for the ride; which seemed like a grand idea, right up until the point he started singing along to Stealers Wheels jaunty Stuck In The Middle With You during Mr Blonde’s now infamous torture scene.

To be sure, I’d have volunteered to have an ear cut off at that point.

Preferably both.

And much like the botched shoot out at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs, the rest of this Tarantino flavoured Secret Theatre experience can be a hit and miss affair.

The venue unexpectedly turns out to be a big hit, providing the perfect stage for this show, and there are some really nice touches you don’t expect during the interval.

Remember to stay in character even when grabbing a smoke before the final act, as not everyone in the audience is playing themselves tonight.

But the acting is uneven, with some turns taking you right back to the original material while other end up provoking unintentional laughter.

Of course, no-one’s laughing when Mr Blonde’s finished da vinci’ing the poor chap he gets his hands on.

And seeing this in the flesh makes it all the more visceral and terrifying.

But the beauty of a Secret Theatre experience is you get more than a simple show on stage, so just remember that’s why you came here tonight.

Jonathan Campbell

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November 2013
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