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I hadn’t heard of Secret Cinema much before the event. My friend who told me about it had gone before. He had told me what he knew about it. In its infancy it was an immersive screening where you wouldn’t know what the film was before. You would be given a time, and kind of dress style, clues, and that was it. Later they started to reveal the film beforehand, which I think was a good idea because it would lead to more word of mouth.
Secret Cinema Back to the Future didn’t start out well. It had cancelled the first week, due to Health and Safety, which lead me to believe that there would be some form of stunts.
I managed to go to the second day of the event. I wished that it had started when it was originally was meant to have start because then the actors and whatever kinks would have been worked out. But whatever, I was going to a recreated Hill Valley, with a new character name, and an occupation.
On the way in, we were asked to hand in our phones. I had read previously that they do this in order for you to actually experience the event as opposed to taking photos all the time. I understand this (also to stop people from spoiling the event for other people), but at the same time, I had paid £53 for this and I would want some pictures. They provided disposable cameras, but you had to pay for them. I just told them that I didn’t have my phone, and took a few pictures. They also had “security” who would essentially confiscate your phone if you were seen with it, and also the actors would tell you politely to put them away – in fact my friend was asked to put his phone away by the guy who was playing Goldie Wilson.
Walking into the event it was actually quite good. They had recreated the Clock Tower (with a blank front in order to screen the film onto the Clock Tower), they was astroturf on the Town Square in order for people to sit on whilst watching. They had recreated Lou’s Diner into something much bigger in order to sell drinks (I myself had a Milkshake which was decent enough, nothing special though). They had recreated Hill Valley High complete with the Enchantment Under the Seas Dance, which was actually quite good. The rest of the shops were pretty bog standard, some of them were from the film, others were just made up for the event, BUT they were also essentially shipping containers with interior decoration. Each shop had their own actors who would try and get you to go in. The shops correlated to jobs which you were given previously. I believe you could go inside, and essentially role play your way through the job.
Nearly everyone had dressed up for the event. It had that Comic Book convention feel to it. Only a little more mainstream, with people essentially cosplaying (and role playing if they wanted to do their job). There were also actors running around the play, improv-ing skits.
The film didn’t get started until it started to get dark, and I wont spoil it, but it was quite good. There were a few hick ups on my night, with the screening freezing and having to be restarted around 3 times before it played the whole way through. It was easy to get caught up in the moment with people cheering when George punched out Biff, and also everyone getting up for an impromptu dance during Marty’s rendition of Johnny B Goode.
Overall the experience was decent enough. I have a thing about attention seekers, and I was rolling my eyes for most of the time, with the actors doing their skits, and also some of the people who had overdressed. But apart from that, the actual watching of the movie was a great experience.
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Image from website: Chorleylittletheatre.com