Secret Cinema has been building innovative, immersive worlds for an incredible 12 years now and while the early creations were always ambitious and deftly original, they’ve now reached a point that excels what we expect, by offering audiences night-after-night productions that could easily fit inside the film-making worlds of any major film studio. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to report that Secret Cinema Presents Casino Royale is no exception.
If you’re new to the game, well, here’s a little context: While not every Secret Cinema event gives you full knowledge of what film you’ll be watching at the end of the evening, Secret Cinema Presents… certainly does. In this case it is 2006’s Casino Royale, the first outing for Daniel Craig as 007, which was when modern Bond re-invented itself with a gritty, violent and more realistic take on the fictional spy hero.
Choosing such a film is an astute, inspired choice and not just because Bond can go anywhere in the world but because the stories are full of secrets, unpredictability along with those all-important twists in the narrative, compared to previous franchise narratives. This is a key point because that’s precisely what they produce here, in a secret London location, with exciting destinations, lots of surprises, huge real-life sets and a shifty, underlying storyline where it’s your job to hunt down those trying to make dodgy deals with tens of millions of pounds at stake.
Without writing about the small details, we wouldn’t want to give anything major away, you can know the basics. Beforehand, you’ll be assigned an undercover name, character traits and you’re given instructions on what to wear to meet your contact, on the night. Granted, everyone else attending is also given similar information but there’s many variations, so different people will have different missions. You also get to pick your name from a large selection, so get your fake name on and relish the character creation.
While you’re obviously given instructions on how to get to your starting destination, you never really know what to expect and over the course of the evening, and after navigating the Globe in the hunt for secrets, the likes of Venice and (of course) Montenegro are included, I promise that you’ll wish it could just carry on for hours. One of my favourite things, and this might sound a little twisted, was the feeling of distrust in the air, where someone at the bar or at the card table, or in the restaurants, might not just be ‘another person’. I had my own fun, people watching and observing how some might take a second look – where they wouldn’t necessarily in a different situation – and it can all depend on your general manner but, of course, keep it rationally sensible.
The key to your entire evening is whether you decide to play the game or just sit back, I’d say get involved because before you know it, time has passed and actions really start to ramp up. As you watch people getting dragged off for various causes, you can hear and feel the atmosphere getting more intense as it builds, and as you hit the crescendo of the evening (before the screening) you honestly wish you’d dived into one more card table, or even asked more analytical questions.
Our top tips? Arrive early and throw yourself into the evening, remember it’s fiction though but you can still have a lot of fun. While your level of participation might depend on your personality, the cast and characters bubbling underneath are there as part of your adventure and that’s why Secret Cinema Presents is so special. Ask questions, hunt down your mark, find out what you can. Maybe we took a moment too long to get involved but would we go again? 100%.
We took $10,000 with the final hand on a card table, which came with wide-ranging steely looks and also joy from those around us, we followed our mark and watched as things fell apart for them and – oh – make sure you’re in the ‘actual’ Casino Royale for the finale, trust us, you don’t want to be anywhere else for a thrilling, gun-shooting, money-throwing extravaganza that captivates and excites in abundance. With great, friendly staff throughout, we loved every moment – Where next? 1985 and the town of Hawkins…