Theatre Review: Secret Theatre Project Hong Kong 2
This year’s Secret Theatre project in Hong Kong is still, well, a secret. However, this time, it is one good entertainment for a night-out!
After the box office success of last year’s project of Se7en Deadly Sins done in a house on an island away from the city, Secret Theatre returns to Hong Kong for another hit.
For those who do not know about Secret Theatre, it is a theatre company from UK, founded by Richard Crawford, which aim is to produce immersive theatrical performances without revealing any information about the show to its audience until the time when the audience is experiencing it. So you see, this review is going to be way shorter than the ones I did before, as the producer did tell me not to reveal any content about it, except authorising me to publish the photos you can see in this review.
It is true that the term ‘immersive theatre’ is still arguable for an exact form. I myself is an immersive theatre researcher, and am a big fan of Punchdrunk’s production. I did once believe that Punchdrunk’s productions are the textbook examples of how immersive theatre should be. They should be performed in a very silenced way. Actors should be as subtle as possible. They should be whispering instead of projecting. There should be multi-routes. Audience should differentiate themselves from the actors, as if they are spying on the character’s uncut journey.
I still have huge adoration to this kind of immersive theatre, but of course, now I know that immersive theatre can be in other shapes and sizes. RIFT’s production of Macbeth in London is a good example of how immersive theatre can be done without the structure of a Punchdrunk show.
This is what I experienced again with this year’s Secret Theatre production. To be frank, I was not fond of their venture in last year where I did feel that it is more an environmental theatre done in a promenade form instead of immersive, because the design was off with the architecture of the venue as well as the acting and interactive elements were not fully conceived.
They totally turn the table over with this year’s production, which is a transfer of their original production done in London a few months ago. An immersive piece really successfully done with a gripping structure and acquired aesthetic taste. I finally can see the brilliant skills of Mr Crawford’s directions. Everything is designed closely to the venue, from the play structure to the design of the costumes and the use of lighting.
Kudos must go to the actors, whose performance style is in traditional theatrical form, yet you do not feel like they are putting on a play where the audience, standing close to them, are just audience. We are part of the story, and you can feel that the actors are with us, even though we know they are actors.
This is what I will define immersive theatre as it is: a theatrical performance which characters played by actors are living and breathing with the audience together within the show.
As an audience member, I really have the enjoyment to follow the show, as well as to follow the journey of the characters, as well as my journey following these characters. I keep asking myself, ‘what will happen next? What can I do to contribute to this journey?’ And at the end, everyone is having a blast of interactive fun.
So I will say, if you want to have a fun night-out that is more than just holding at the bar, and you have a lot of dough as well, go and give a chance for Secret Theatre. You will be pleased.
Secret Theatre Project Hong Kong 2
Produced by Secret Theatre London
Conceived and Directed by Richard Crawford
Through 15th December 2016