Monday, 19 November 2012

The best kind of secret

A secret is sweeping the UK.  And if you haven’t got in on it you are missing out.

This secret is the very best kind: intriguing, absorbing, clever, creative, bewitching, beguiling, rewarding, turbo-charged fun shared by only the right kind of people.

And who are these ‘right kind of people’?  They are people like you and me: people who, given the right circumstances, are open and friendly, warm and a little whacky.  They are people who are prepared to get into the spirit of something new, take a risk, wear a costume, muck in, have a laugh, adopt a character, tease a character, improvise, adapt, mingle with strangers, make a new friend, arrive in an unknown place for an unknown experience and do their best to get their money’s worth of entertainment.  They are people who know how to have a good time!

This secret club of smiling, satisfied Londoners is growing… because the Secret Cinema is in town!

One of my Greek sailing buddies, Alex, sent out an unexpected email recently saying “I have ten tickets, first people to confirm can join me for Secret Cinema”.  Toni, my lovely hairdresser, had put me ‘in the know’ about the Secret Cinema phenomena so I replied immediately.  Excitement built as I waited for party day.  When I went to the ‘secret website’ I got more intrigued; for it tells you as much as it holds back. The experience from planning to marketing to arriving and beginning the Secret Cinema journey is filled with mystery and provocative suspense.  The actress in me got hooked on the theatrics.  The writer in me tried to guess which film it might be.  The flirt in me loved the game.  And the arts/events producer is determined to find out who is in charge so I can work for them.

When the day finally arrived I met Alex and Shelene in town for a cocktail.  We then took a tube to the East End to follow instructions we were given, again in secret, re where to report.  We were dressed as instructed.  We were in the mood (as people tend to be if they’ve bothered to prepare for a themed party).  We walked tentatively through a dark park before arriving at the entrance to Secret Cinema's secret location; which changes depending on the design of the event which is governed by the nature of the secret film.  Immediately we were surrounded by atmosphere.  Instantly we were in a scene from the movie.  Inevitably I played along and found myself bantering with hired actors, other customers, Alex’s friends like Jorge, Jonathan and Martin, basically anyone who was ready to ‘pull down their wall’ and go with the energy and intention of the evening. 

It would be hours before we sat down to watch the secret film, by which time we had worked out what it was likely to be.  But it wasn’t the film I’d expected upon arrival and the choice was even better in my opinion – a brilliant film, a classic, with an endless number of themes and settings to play into an event designer’s hands.  I missed nothing.  I admired every piece of period set-dressing and operational detail.  I grinned at the clever use of a vast space and the effortless way crowds flowed in and out of different sections avoiding undue congestion.  I was escorted or wandered from activity to activity.  I drank.  I ate a little.  I talked or interacted with countless people I’d never seen before and probably will never see again.  I laughed.  I play-acted.  I mimicked the actor’s accents, who of course never admitted they were acting.  I got into trouble (though I can’t tell you with whom as that would give away the plot).  I made friends.  I lost friends (as in physically separated).  And because of that I made one particular new friend, a nice young man called Haydn, who stayed with me for the whole evening, ready to enjoy the diversity of activities and laugh heartily as I threw myself into scenes as if I was already on the pay-roll.

I can’t tell you anything about the actual activities, the setting or the film – that would be like telling someone the ending of Mouse Trap – but I can say that visitors are free to interact as little or as much with the pre-show event as feels comfortable for them.  I can also say the Secret Cinema experience was extremely well thought out, designed, directed and executed… and after several hours of fun you then got to sit down and watch the film with popcorn and beer.  Could it get any better? 

Well actually, yes, in my case it did.  Because the handsome man who’d been such good company, sat with me in the rear of the cinema and held my hand.  Then, feeling happy and carefree, we kissed.  In fact it was lucky we both knew the film well, as after a gentle start we decided we liked it and kept kissing.  It was also lucky the seat immediately behind was vacant so our heads coming together didn’t obstruct anyone’s view.  When temperatures rose we thought about going outside for a while to ‘make out’ like teenagers.  But it was so delightfully uncomplicated to enjoy simultaneous snuggling, kissing and watching, that we stayed in the make-shift cinema and enjoyed the movie highlights with all the other warm, happy people. 

At the end of this evening of unadulterated fun, all we could do was laugh and smile and repeat over and over again “what a great night”!  Indeed everyone on the bus was smiling and saying “awesome”… “can’t imagine a better evening”…  

Then the nice young man got me safely home. We exchanged numbers with a goodnight kiss.  And whether I see him again, or not, he was the perfect Secret Cinema buddy – his soft lips a bonus in a swathe of sweet secrets and delights.

Regular blog readers know I love opera, theatre, galleries and many cultural pursuits.  But if you want to let your hair down… be a little whacky and wild, and come out with a smile on your face that you won’t be able to shift for days… then get yourself into the secret club of smug people ‘in the know’.

Most of all, may the secret charms of Secret Cinema long endure...