A club night gone very very wrong.
Richard Crawford’s Secret Theatre Project has made a bit of a name for itself ever since it began a couple of years ago, gaining a worldwide following. Playing to international audiences as it toured cities from London to New York to Hong Kong, the gimmick behind the project is simple – take a popular film (past projects have included Fight Club, Se7en and Edward Scissorhands), and recreate it in a secret location, revealed to audience members only on the day of their performance.
In its inaugural Singapore production, The Secret Theatre Project has decided to tackle a certain 90s cult film set in a dodgy club with some dark secrets. As the audience, we’re here to visit as patrons, entertained by the club employees as they perform titillating, well-rehearsed number after number (and with a charming enough host who absolutely steals the show), before all hell breaks lose with the arrival of some uninvited guests. It all goes from glitz and glamour to worst nightmare rather quickly, and we’re thrust right into the heart of the action before we know it.
Utilising their unique brand of immersive theatre, one is never forced or coerced into participating in any of the activities or interactions the team have set up, allowing for a certain freedom of choice in terms of how much we want to join in the fray. Although you should mentally prepare yourself for the whiplash change in mood, there’s a casual approach to the production that makes it easy for both immersive theatre newbies and veterans to decide how much they want to be involved (though the more you throw yourself into it, the more you’ll enjoy it). The team behind Secret Theatre have set up a good homage to the film it is inspired by, bringing to life the same characters and plot as the original source, and a commendable effort at creating a claustrophobia to the club that has potential to create real fear in viewers. Led from one space to another, there’s a tension the team attempts to create that works better when you allow yourself to fully play into the world (helped if you’re a little more inebriated).
At the same time, one wonders if they had been given a more versatile space, they might have been able to truly transform the space for an even stronger sense of immersion, while also, one wishes that more time had been spent on research, as some ‘locally flavoured’ jokes miss the mark. However, one truly appreciates how the entire cast fully commits to their roles, maintaining character from start to end even when audiences may not have been as responsive, and considering it was their first performance in the space, it’s a valiant effort, considering it may take them some time to warm up and understand the audiences here.
The Secret Theatre Project is ultimately a bit of a gamble, and is largely dependent on how much one is willing to buy into the fiction of the world they’ve created, and to a certain extent, how much one appreciates the film itself it’s based on. The best way to enjoy Secret Theatre Project Singapore is simply to let yourself go and completely suspend your disbelief before heading in. With a stiff drink in hand and oddly-shaped water gun in the other, allow yourself to let loose a laugh at the campy madness of it all, and revel thoroughly in the efforts gone into setting up this secret playpen for you. It’s not for us, but it might just be what someone else needs for a good night out.
Performance attended 2/5/18
Secret Theatre plays at a secret location from 2nd May – 10th June. All attendees must be over the age of 21. Tickets available from iGo Ticketing.