Future Cinema have built up quite a reputation for delivering experiences that transport you to another time and place – Secret Cinema’s recent Shawshank Redemption outing (which I reviewed) was a remarkable experience which took us right out of our comfort zone, so my expectations were high when I received a mysterious email from a man called Rick. Opening it up, the email invited me to print out my identity papers and present myself at a spot near Limehouse station to be whisked away to far-away Morocco and Rick’s Cafe Americain in Casablanca…
Our first experience involved being ordered around by gruff Vichy France gendarmes, with many of our suitably attired compatriots being frisked, before we were led around the back of the Troxy venue on Commercial Road (used for many years as a bingo hall, this fabulous 1930s venue underwent an extensive renovation in the late 2000s which restored it to its art deco splendour – an ideal choice for somewhere acting as a backdrop to a movie set in the early 1940s).
Making our way through a warren of corridors we emerged into the dazzling splendour of a period nightclub, with the white-suited Rick Blaine standing centre-stage, holding court in front of his white grand piano. Taking a seat at one of the grandly-appointed tables we watched as the other characters from this seminal movie emerged to replay several scenes, all accompanied by a big-band jazz and a chorus line of pretty dancers, interrupted at times by encounters between conspirators and police around the venue that would see guns blazing and people falling under hails of bullets!
Of course all of the Secret Cinema events lead up to a screening of the film in question, but being steeped in the fragile atmosphere of wartime Morocco gave me a deeper appreciation of the quality of Casablanca the movie. Give me the immersive Secret Cinema treatment over 3D any day of the week!
As at the time of writing, tickets are still available for this unique Casablanca experience on Thursday 21 March and Saturday 23 March. I highly recommend it if you want a really different cinema-going experience this week!