Transporting audiences to cinematic worlds including Dirty Dancing, Back to the Future and Romeo and Juliet since 2007, Secret Cinema has established itself as a leader in immersive theatrical experiences. But, their latest venture marks the inaugural Secret Cinema experience based on a television-based world, as Secret Cinema presents Stranger Things has audiences imagining what life would be like in the Upside Down.
Since the Duffer Brothers sci-fi spectacular first came to Netflix in 2016, Stranger Things became an overnight success. Now three seasons in, its immediate popularity with audiences worldwide has ensured Stranger Things as one of this decade’s biggest cultural phenomenons, with the show’s fictional setting of Hawkins, Indiana for themselves coming to life at a secret London location.
But being immersed into daily life in Hawkins starts way before you arrive. Assigned a character as you sign up to head to Hawkins for an Independence Day reunion - I was given the character of media hotshot Mildred "Dorker" Tyler - Secret Cinema-goers are encouraged to take on their new, eighties-inspired identities from the moment they step into this new world, with creative director Matt Bennett ensuring the secret location’s aesthetics truly look and feel like the unsuspecting American paradise that Hawkins has become famous for.
Official press material states that up to 1,200 visitors per performance can “explore the untold story of Hawkins”, condensing 20 hours of televised Stranger Things drama into a three-hour immersive experience that culminates in a "30-minute uninterrupted core moment of euphoria". While I’m sworn to secrecy about the lives of those who call this Indiana town their home, it’s an exhilarating experience where a cast of 70 actors bring the eccentricity of Hawkins to life with stories unfolding all around you.
Like the televised original, it can be overwhelming at times, especially when you’re trying to take in everything this dystopian town has to offer. But as visitors settle into their new surroundings, the town comes alive in an all-American celebration, courtesy of Mayor of Hawkins, Larry Kline.
If you decide to enter Hawkins with no knowledge of the hit television series, it’s still an epic adventure into the unknown. But for a self-confessed Stranger Things fan like me, it’s a chance to step into the Upside Down and become a part of the Hawkins High gang.
Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things is at a secret London location until 23rd February 2020.