“Stay low, keep your face hidden, and remember: you are Rebel X,” our masked military leader barks at us, as we dash full pelt through the winding tunnels of a mysterious army base. Not your usual Thursday afternoon in central London.
This is not a covert military mission, but Secret Cinema’s latest, and possibly greatest, offering – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Here at TLE we’re not ones for spoilers, but given a price tag that would uncurl Princess Leia’s braids – a whopping £78 – we feel a responsibility to at least give a general appraisal of the production. You’ve got to make an informed decision at that price, right?
The first thing that strikes us as we enter this brave, new world is the genuinely ridiculous attention to detail – seemingly endless nooks and crannies all with nods to specific Star Wars scenes and locations – and ingenious ways of moving the audience between ‘worlds’.
As well as the epic scale of the world the Secret Cinema crew have created, us rebels are kept well entertained by some totally intergalactic live music (frankly, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a stormtrooper DJ-ing), the coolest bar this side of the galaxy, the unwaveringly in-character dwellers of the planet, encountering mysterious messengers and completing clandestine missions.
Sometimes it’s hard to decipher who is audience and who is actor, which just adds to the feeling of being immersed, being part of something rather than viewing it.
So far, so Secret Cinema. That’s what they all do, right? The difference with this latest instalment is that, unlike other headline productions like Back to the Future or Blade Runner, attendees are part of one rebel force: we’re all on the same team, fighting for the same force. It’s the iconic film and epic tale of good vs. evil that take the experience to a different level.
There are some rousing set pieces that outstrip previous productions in terms of ambition, and some additions to the viewing part of the experience that keep the immersive nature going until close. After the credits roll, make sure you stick around for the most bizarre nightclub of your life.
If you can stomach the price tag, the force is strong with this one. Like, really strong.
SECRET CINEMA Presents STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK runs now until 27 September 2015. Book tickets here.
Photocredit: Secret Cinema/Camilla Greenwood