Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things

“Eye-wateringly cool”

The best pop culture depictions of the Eighties are poised on a knife edge: bright colours! Big hair! Definitive pop! But also corruption! Greed! Excess! That’s the dichotomy that the Netflix series Stranger Things is built on: come back and bathe in nostalgia, with a seam of adult fears underneath. Secret Cinema’s live action immersive retelling gets that.

Gathered to celebrate a balmy 4th July 1985 in the town of Hawkins, Indiana, there’s both fizz and spook to the proceedings: plenty lycra, but also plenty dark corners and flickering lights. Without giving away too many of the show’s secrets, there’s an obvious political relevance (rhymes with ‘Schmonald Schmump’), and it gives the evening some ballast to anchor the arc of it in government corruption and the role of a free press. A lot of infrastructure is in place to get audience members talking to each other, sharing secrets; there is power in whispers, and the unravelling of truths.

If it misses some of the sweetness of the series, the wholesomeness of kids-on-bikes dictums like “friends don’t lie”, then it is still very much a show for adults, many of whom are willing to don fishnet tights and fingerless gloves and drop a ton of cash on food trucks and booze. There’s plenty of fun to be had in the unfolding environs and, crucially, extremely helpful staff who can point you in the direction of a bit of sleuthing to get involved in.

As always, the production values are eye-wateringly cool. The performances are particularly spot on and feel like loving tributes to the series – there’s a thrill to spotting [Redacted] patrolling the crowd, or being politely hustled out of the way by [Redacted] so they can use a payphone, although you might have to go looking for your favourites. It’s a fun feeling being the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Hawkins, on the edge of something vast and mysterious.

The detail is seemingly endless, from costuming to set dressing (and some wigs that can be seen from space), and the final half hour is spectacular, though likely to be divisive. Instead of the traditional screening, it’s something much more live and theatrical in a way that’s a new direction for Secret Cinema. Although some of its dramaturgy is questionable (it is essentially Stranger Things: The Remix), it is gorgeous in design, particularly its lighting, video and choreography.

The usual disclaimers apply: there are huge numbers of people milling through the space, and even once you manage to jump on a storyline, queues start to form to talk to Significant Characters, giving it a slightly ‘waiting to meet Mickey at Disneyland’ quality. Get there early, be proactive, wear flat shoes.

Sets, flicks and a licence to thrill: backstage at Secret Cinema’s latest immersive theatre mission

Related to this Review

Natasha Tripney: At Secret Cinema you're never far, far away from a spending opportunityNatasha Tripney: At Secret Cinema you're never far, far away from a spending opportunity

Production Details
Production nameSecret Cinema Presents Stranger Things
VenueSecret Location
StartsNovember 12, 2019
EndsFebruary 23, 2020
CreatorFabien Riggall
DirectorMatt Costain, Matthew Bennett
TechnicalLucy Ridley, Tom Mitchell
ProducerAmber Molyneux
VerdictNeon meets demogorgons as truths are brought to light in a fun immersive evening
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Rafaella Marcus

Rafaella Marcus

Rafaella Marcus

Rafaella Marcus

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In