Event Reviews / Features / Television

Review: Secret Cinema presents Stranger Things

Secret Cinema have spent over a decade building their reputation as London’s premiere theatrical experience. Cinephiles across the country have enjoyed beautifully inventive and immersive recreations of their favourite films since 2009. In the years since their inception, they have steadily expanded their scope and scale. This includes critically acclaimed events that brought Back to the Future, Romeo + Juliet, Casino Royale (Our review) and even Star Wars to life. For this venture into the world of fantasy and Sci-fi, they’ve collaborated with Netflix for an adaptation of the worldwide phenomenon, Stranger Things, and Critical Popcorn were fortunate enough to be invited to the opening night, and we were not disappointed!

The pairing of these two groundbreaking media entities is a match made in heaven for a number of reasons. Marking Secret Cinema’s first venture into television, and Netflix’ first theatrical collaboration outside of the big and small screen, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression by being able to transcend multiple platforms. Stranger Things 80’s-themed narrative setting allows for some incredible nostalgia and ingeniously devised interactions with key characters from the show.

Across the entire media spectrum of the 21st century, many corporations have quickly come to the realisation that nostalgia is the name of the game. In an age of endless technological advancement and instant gratification, this ironic fact may seem slightly strange to those of us that don’t live in the past. Fortunately, with climate change and political hysteria ever-prevalent topics in 2019, those that don’t long for a simpler time of optimism and colourful outfit choices are firmly in the minority. This makes Stranger Things an ideal vehicle for an event of this nature. Enthusiasts of 80s culture (are there people out there who aren’t?) will be immensely overwhelmed with the accuracy and detail on display.

Disgruntled and reluctantly polite Brits looking for some Brexit-free escapism will also enjoy the Americanised aesthetic. Shows such as Stranger Things and Riverdale built their appeal using visual homages to American stereotypes, that are strongly embedded in our societies view of pop culture. This aviator-tinted slice will have audiences genuinely believing that they’ve hopped into a DeLorean for the day. Of course, part of the magic is participation, which means that maximum enjoyment will come as a result of fully immersing yourself. While this means that the actors do not stand out as much among us mere mortals as say, the characters from Blade Runner, this show is easily more of an interactive experience. Without the clear Sci-fi barrier presented by the more out-of-this-world characters and scenarios, it becomes much easier to get carried away with the madness. By no means is it a requirement to bring your Varsity jackets and acid-wash jeans with you but it will certainly enhance the fun. In for a penny, in for a dollar after all.

Speaking of dollars, it should be pointed out that anyone hoping to fully embrace a time before contactless payment and the realm of digital currency, should have their debit card handy. While there are some delicious items of 80s-themed sustenance available, cash transactions are not. Guests will also be asked to hand over their phones, ready to be sealed up and hidden away until the end of the show. This may be slightly irritating for those Instagram obsessed individuals who can’t resisting taking a snap at everything they see. But, make no mistake, this is a blessing that helps preserve the time-bubble brilliantly. Rest assured that there are also photo opportunities before and after the event, just don’t expect to be posing next to your favourite characters.

Our visit to Hawkins was a thrilling journey back in time to the world of Stranger Things, with benefits to both fans and the uninitiated. Those that have not dedicated many well-spent hours to the company of Eleven and her pals, may find aspects of the show slightly confusing (particularly the mind-blowing and spectacularly orchestrated finale). However, even without context, enough visual hand-holding is given to make it easy for newcomers to get on-board.

Secret Cinema presents Secret Cinema is on now, book your spot: tickets.secretcinema.org/StrangerThings

Photography: © Secret Cinema – Luke Dyson: www.lukedyson.com

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