One of the perks of this blogging lark is that, every now and then, one gets invited to something amazing. These invites are pretty few and far between, unlike some of my vintage blogging peers I'm not adept at events writing or popular enough to attract a large number of freebies, let alone those that are suitable to write about here. Lately, I've mainly been bombarded with messages regarding the promotion of some rather unsightly gentleman's sports shoes which I've been most studiously avoiding. So, when an offer to attend Secret Cinema's latest offering, Casablanca, dropped through my virtual mailbox, I jumped at the chance to attend.
Secret Cinema are known for running the best in immersive cinema experiences. Their past history including sold out runs of Bugsy Malone and Prometheus and Casablanca was all I expected and more.
Once I had confirmed my attendance I was issued with a new identity and a set of papers and instructed to arrive at an East London location to be met under the bridge by our contact and that we would have to show them "the sign of the snake" in order to gain admittance to Rick's Bar. My fella and I spent the next 24 hours getting into character. For me this meant planning a suitably over the top 1940s outfit and for him it mainly involved practicing a Hungarian accent and drawing a snake on my leg.
|It's a snake, honest|
|I cannot work out what the letters on this are meant to say...M, A, backwards F?|
|Why is there a circle on the carpet? Anyway - look at my lovely brooch|
|Hello Baby Gene|
|I love this 40s coat, it is a wartime utility number , sheepskin painted in leopard|
|Overdrawn 40s lip sneer|
We were one of the first to arrive, having chosen the earliest entry time for the event and, after meeting the very glamorous Jeni Yesterday outside we joined the queue for entry. It took rather a long time to get in as most of the queue were given a frisking by the police (sadly not me...oh well) and we were all subject to questioning before being allowed in. It was a great way to build up the tension and it was definitely worth it, as, once inside the velue the contrast between the harsh back alley and the interior really blew me away. Sadly it was very dark in there an almost impossible to photograph. you'll just have to go and visit yourself I'm afraid.
The event was hosted at The Troxy, a sumptuous art deco theatre in Stepney. It couldn't have been more perfect. The entire place was transformed into a large and lavish bar, with the wonderful Benoit Viellefon and his orchestra providing suitably period tunes on the stage up front and a restaurant and a few little entertainments at the rear. Actors wandered around trying to swap information and a playing out a few set pieces to keep us all amused while waiting for the film to start.
Sadly the food and cocktails were out of my price range but we managed to get a good table and settled down with a bottle of red (at a shocking £20 for the house wine) and some plastic glasses to get ready for things to come.
After a few hours of drink and good chatter and having my picture taken with a snake round my neck the film came on and it seemed to go down a storm with the audience. Sadly I cannot bear Ingrid Bergman and so I went outside for an extended cigarette break before rejoining the gang - now boosted by the ever lovely Fleur de Guerre and her chap - for some dancing and general fun. My fella had even managed to snag us our exit visas after some negotiations with the resistance. Clever boy.
I good time was had by all, from what I could see, and I certainly left the place on a high. Or a drunk. All I know is things got suitable raucous on the way out.
I can strongly recommend this event for a good night out, whether you like the film or no, and I've also heard great things about their other events - they have a Shawshank Redemption production running right now too which is getting rave reviews. I'd love to go *wink wink*
It isn't a cheap night, at £25 a ticket the price of the food and drink on top seems pretty steep, but this must have cost a fortune to put on so it seems fair enough I guess. The cast of entertainers alone must rack up quite a bill. My only criticisms would be the plastic glasses when they gave out real glasses for cocktails and that they hadn't taught the actors proper partner dancing. Other than that everything was perfect.
All told, I had a thoroughly good time and I can highly recommend the evening. Just make sure you go in willing to play along, this isn't a night for sitting back and observing - you need to be up for getting involved. Get yourself a ticket, get out your glad rags and learn the Marseillaise.
It could all so easily have gone a bit 'Allo 'Allo, Now, there's an idea for as theme night?!