As a huge fan of Secret Cinema, when an email from Secret Theatre popped up in my inbox I thought I’d give it a go. I’d heard rumours that at previous events the audience was lucky enough to see famous plays and actors.
We were given an address on Kingsland Road, Hackney (a very long road by the way!) which turned out to be a closed-down Irish pub called The King’s Head.
With shutters down and no sign of life we wondered whether we had the right place. A seemingly homeless girl sat on cardboard in the doorway and begged us for money. We rang the doorbell but got no response. I listened closely at the door and could hear the faint sound of jazz music, confirming that we had indeed found our destination and that there was no way they could hear the bell over all that row!
Then, to our surprise, a flamboyantly dressed man in top hat, tails and masquerade mask burst through the door, welcoming us in like old friends.
Wow! It wasn’t what we were expecting at all! Firstly everyone was wearing masks (apparently I didn’t get the memo!) and secondly this old boozer was actually the most divinely decorated secret members club.
Good job we don’t mind taxidermy, that’s all I can say!
We found some seats around the bar and were accosted by the glamorous hostess who amazingly was learning everyone’s names- ironically I’ve completely forgotten hers. She offered us the cocktail menu which was a horrid thought at two o’clock in the afternoon but we rolled with it. Would be awfully rude for a flapper to turn down a cock’!
Muv ordered a dry Martini and lemonade but somehow ended up with two gin martini cocktails. Needless to say she was sloshed by the end of it!
We could sense something was going to happen- for one, the ‘homeless’ girl was wandering around the bar. Suddenly a man in nothing but underpants and smoothered in blood appeared, hollering and causing a scene. This was it- we were immersed in series of murders, leading us all round the building, from the basement, which I gather is usually a nightclub to the fabulous rooms above, filled with exotic stuffed animals and exquisite antique furniture.
As we marched up and down the stairs discovering grim murder scenes, it became apparent that the theme was the seven deadly sins.
You couldn’t call this a murder mystery as when the culprit was revealed we hadn’t seen him before. I know it was a play, rather than a Cluedo style game, but it just wasn’t clever enough for us; with the hostess learning everyone’s names we were certain that this would have been interwoven into the play somehow, but no. The final monologue by the murderer was very cryptic and biblical, it left the audience not knowing whether to applaud or expect more. This created an awkward atmosphere and no satisfying conclusion, so when we were all ushered back up to the bar with the offer of another drink… we just wanted to get out of there! This is no criticism of the actors, only the play.
It was half past four by this point which allowed us time to take a stroll around Spitalfields market to cheer us all up!