Secret Theatre Project have returned to London with a new immersive experience, set at Bethnal Green Town Hall (which originally opened in 1910 and is a historical gem with a wealth of preserved features).
With much of the building now an elegant hotel, the original council chamber is a central feature to the experience. The grade II listed interior and distinguished Art Deco furnishings provide a fitting backdrop to this new immersive production.
This is a must for those who enjoy themed dinners and Murder Mysteries and especially feeling part of the action.
The invitation is to a Masquerade Ball hosted by Kendall (Lisa Moorish) and promises to fulfil your wildest, kinkiest dreams The experience starts before you are signed in by head of security, Price (Daniel Scott Smith) in selecting your mask, in a neat and effective surprise that really gets you thinking.
You can enjoy a two course meal and champagne before the Ball starts, or just go for the immersive experience. Either way it’s best to throw away your inhibitions and get involved, along with the other hundred guests.
The show stars with a dance by Vanessa (Emma Kirrage) before investigating the evidence around the body of Nicole in the bedroom. The clues suggest acts of God in the “Love Room”. We are then approached by a person who recruited us as disciples of a masked man in a candlelit ceremony (Gordon Foggo) although this eventually seemed to have no bearing on the investigation!
The real show starts with a song at the piano by Lisa Ronson (Leslie Kunz) and an erotic dance by Vanessa and her partner Jake (Kai Spellman), which is interrupted by the arrival of a naked blood stained Peter (Ric Renton) from the “Love room” (an obvious first suspect for the murder).
Two detectives are revealed David Mills (Harry Oram) and William Somerset (Kit Smith) who have also been invited to attend the evening. They investigate the suspects, quickly determining the horrific cause of Nicole’s death. The suspects include Tracy (Izzy Jones), Billy (Robert Rhodes) and City Banker Mark (Jack Harding).
If you have seen the film Se7en, the whole thing starts to become terribly familiar as you realise that Nicole’s death was in the name of Lust, the first of seven deadly sins and you wait to uncover the others, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride and Wrath. You will have to go and see it to find out what happens!
Directors Richard Crawford and Tom Syms ensure plenty of interaction between the characters and audience, especially in the court room scenes and in the search for clues and interactions in the ballroom. The short walk between the two rooms at least gives you time to reflect, take a toilet break or comfort the sobbing Vanessa.
This is a morality tale that focuses on the murders rather than the promised eroticism. Some of the lines get lost in the shouted action and there is a lot of standing around and watching. It’s not on the same scale or as immersive as the recent Secret Cinema or Punchdrunk‘s brilliant ‘Drowned Man’ of a few years back but it is fun, a great setting and it is possible to work out what is going on! So if you want a different experience and a step up from a themed dinner, then this could be for you.
Reviewed by Nick Wayne
Photo: Jeremy Rice