Secret Cinema's Casino Royale Has A Licence To Thrill

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Secret Cinema's Casino Royale Has A Licence To Thrill
Night down the casino? © Secret Cinema — Luke Dyson.

This stretch of zone 5 has surely never looked so glamorous. The walk from [tube station name redacted] to the venue's a parade of sunglasses, tuxes and ballgowns against the concrete backdrop.

It's the usual Secret Cinema drill: phones sealed into pouches only the doorstaff can unlock again at the end of the evening. This production's double secret — really, secrets within secrets — with the usual Secret Cinema level of hush-hush dialled up by the covert-ops espionage theme. We've been pre-prepped in the weeks running up to the show with aliases, dress codes, mission, codeword.

It's a dazzling level of detail; Secret Cinema doesn't do things by halves. And the brilliant, surprising, un-British thing about it is, nor does a Secret Cinema audience. Everybody's flung themselves into it at a run, everybody crowding the tube carriage on the way to [location redacted] looks dressed up to the nine-millions, thoroughly in character and shyly proud. Everybody is all in.

We'd love Secret Cinema if only for that. It's no small miracle to get a London audience to be this invested, and this earnest.  

The night kicks off with a while of just roaming the Casino Royale world, and it takes some roaming; there are villages smaller than this stage set.

Secret Cinema claim this is their biggest and most ambitious production yet, and it shows. We're supposed to be looking for our mission, and the set-pieces are tougher to track down this time than in previous Secret Cinema productions. We get some good advice about the target from a bartender in a small Balkan country, along with a small, chilly and perfect Vesper; we stumble across some nefarious things happening in an airport lounge in Miami that make it clear we need to hop a flight to Italy, stat.

After collecting a bit of intel, mostly by accident, and hitting several street food stalls, very much on purpose, the screening gets going. And what happens next is an entirely new level of secrecy.

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It helps to be intensely into the film already. Bond-verse experts are going to thrive, but lesser fans, like us, are still going to have a good — if occasionally-bewildering — time, intriguing their way around Secret Cinema's extravagantly opulent set.

Stakes are high. Aces are wild. And the martinis are perfect.

Start practising your poker face. © Secret Cinema - Luke Dyson.

Secret Cinema Presents: Casino Royale runs until 22 September 2019 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.

Last Updated 14 June 2019