If you’ve ever fantasised about being a secret agent (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?), this show might be right up your alley. London-based immersive theatre company Secret Cinema
has brought its latest show to Shanghai – a spy thriller based off the 007 film Casino Royale.
With Secret Cinema, there is no screen or stage – the audience is a part of the show. Secret Cinema has been transforming its audiences into all manner of characters from aliens to time travellers since 2007, though this is the company’s first foray into the Mainland, following on the heels of other immersive theatre experiences such as Sleep No More and The Pearl Theatre’s Moulin Dream.
Photographs: courtesy Secret Cinema
For Casino Royale, Secret Cinema cuts no corners with its adults-only, four-hour-plus, bilingual immersive experience – you’re practically a secret agent before the show has even begun. Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you’ll be sent a hyperlink leading to online registration. Only after you’ve completed registration will the location of the venue be revealed.
During the registration process, you’ll also be asked a few questions to help assign you a character to play. The questions are rather eclectic, ranging from inquiries on your moral code to your alcohol tolerance. After the brief survey, you’re assigned one of a few occupations and personalities – options include venture capitalist, high-class celebrity and so on. You’ll also get to pick an alias for yourself, which you’ll be expected to use during the entire night. Once that’s all said and done, you’ll be assigned one of five team colours – each team has its own mission to carry out during the night, so make sure to follow the dress code for the best experience possible.
Upon arrival, your phone will be locked in a pouch and given back to you for safekeeping, as the use of phones and other recording devices is strictly prohibited.
You’ll also get a few mock bills to use throughout the storyline, whether that be for gambling, bribing characters or otherwise.
Once you’ve entered the venue, you’re officially a secret agent for the next few hours. You’ll first be shuffled into a room to be briefed on your mission, after which you’re let loose to explore the world of Casino Royale – and what a world it is. The three-storey venue is enormous, and the dozens of actors inside go all out with their costumes and characters – the decor and atmosphere are equally as impressive.
You’ll have your aforementioned mission to carry out, though you’re also free to simply wander around and experience the venue at your leisure. Feel free to interact with any of the characters you meet from wait staff to head honchos, as well as fellow participants in the show. After the experience is over, there’s a screening of the real Casino Royale film from which the show draws its inspiration.
All in all, Secret Cinema is worth a try. If you want to upgrade your experience, VIP tickets come with perks like priority entry to the venue, food and drink vouchers and a gift bag. Just remember: trust no one.