My, my, my, how Secret Theatre has evolved! I went to their very first production back in 2000-something something where they did a version of Reservoir dogs and the involvement of the audience went as far as being told to dress a bit like a detective. Not particularly immersive, not interactive. But they did a decent enough job with the play.
Now that has all changed. I believe they have used this format previously, but it works. It is fully site specific and there is a problem here in that I don’t want to give too much away to anyone that hasn’t been. What you do know is that someone has committed a crime and you, as the audience/jury must decide – Innocent or Guilty! This acts as the perfect vehicle for the audience to be a part of the action and they do take effort to involve you as a whole, and also individuals at time, in the plot.
The did a great job of creating an immersive setting where you could wander around that really set the scene for the trial unfolding. It was a little bit like A Door in a Wall crossed with a play, with its slightly hammy performers ensuring the audience were along for the ride with them all the way. And not without something of a message, poking fun at reality TV, celebrity and sensationalism.
The twist at the end was so predictable as to make me second guess myself, so I was a little disappointed in that, and can’t imagine the audience voting any other way. But it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the experience, and they had an extra surprise up their sleeve after this which really brought the audience together to make up for the obviousness.
If they repeat this format I would go again, though equally hope they have further versions to unveil.