The world-building is staggeringly in-depth and starts well ahead of the event. Emails start piling into our inbox — your house alliances, personal history, copy of your arrest record, aliases, invitation to the signing of the peace treaty, instructions on your house colours — like a gateway drug into the world of fair Verona Beach.
This latest Secret Cinema production's embedded in 1996, a '96 of brawling and romance, and two houses hanging on the brink of war or truce. And it's a bit glorious. We don't remember the nineties being quite this... poetic, quite this neon, quite as crammed with handsome guys krumping in Hawaiian shirts and gun-holsters. But Secret Cinema's enormous, ambitious production is utterly persuasive, bringing the same air of infinite possibility and edge of menace as the original film.
!BREAKING NEWS! Father Laurence urges all citizens of Fair Verona Beach to sign up to his freshly announced peace accord: “The time for peace is now, all must come to the Truce of Two Houses!” Your summons has been sent. Share this message with all who should attend! #TruceofTwoHouses #VeronaForPeace #VeronaBeach #YoungHearts
Secret Cinema has gone to some serious lengths to keep the secrecy in place, sacrificing mind-blowing amounts of social coverage — and this set would be an Instagrammer's paradise, something beautiful, flamboyant, grimy or iconic happening every second, in every available space. Instead, you're made to seal away your phone at the start of the evening. It's standard MO for their events, but it meshes particularly well with the '96 era setting and the big exuberance of the evening: nobody documenting the dancefloor, everybody on it.
We can't possibly blow that secrecy, but we can confirm it's protecting something of pretty epic scope. The immersive screening is really a festival by any other name — albeit one with immaculate toilets, and far more gunfights than your average gig. The actors roam among the civilians, difficult to pick out among the loud, neon exuberance — spreading intrigue, flirting, brawling, dancing just a bit better than everybody else.
Tickets aren't cheap, or easy to come by — at the time of writing there are just a handful of dates left (and the second night's production was called off last minute due to severely English weather).
But if you make it in, the pay-off is that everybody there has flung themselves into this full-on. Outfits, alliances, intrigue, dancing, the Verona Beach braggadocio: it's all happening. And if you're looking for a festival where nobody in sight is doing anything half-heartedly, this one's hard to beat.
Secret Cinema Presents: William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet runs until 25 August 2018 in London. Tickets are from £50 - £125. At time of writing there were still tickets left for a handful of dates, but no doubt they'll be disappearing quickly: get yours here.
Good Morrow citizens of Verona! Summer hath not a flower so fine as the garments displayed in our fair city. The Truce of Two Houses will be a place to see and be seen. Dress to impress and thee may earn esteemed title of ‘Finest groomed of Verona’. Post thy ensemble below and seek happy nights to happy days...#MerchantofVeronaBeach #VoiceofVerona #DresstoImpress #SecretSummer #YoungHearts #CityofDelights