Review: Secret Cinema Back to the Future - cool but where's the hoverboard?

Secret Cinema’s offering missed some of the best bits of the franchise

I never lived through the 1950s, so I’ve got no idea what it was like. If it was anything like the town of Hill Valley in Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future immersive cinema event, I’d probably like it.

The difficulty with setting a fun event in 1950s America is that it could never, of course, be fully realistic - no-one in their right mind would want to go to an event where black people are forced to use separate bathrooms.

However, the organisers seemed to get the feel of 1955 about right. The town was adorable (if you ignored Stratford’s other modern buildings poking out behind) and you could tell considerable thought had gone into the sets, props and costumes. The attention to detail was striking.

The 80 or so actors were wandering around engaging people in polite American conversation, which actually worked nicely considering around 90% of the guests were in fancy dress and it wasn’t always clear who was playing a character initially.

Secret Cinema Back to the Future

However, if I’m being particularly critical (I am a critic after all) the town and its inhabitants had a creepy Stepford-esque vibe which I felt wasn’t quite in keeping with tone of the film.

There were very few free things to do in the town, but the hipsters who’d already forked out £53 on tickets didn’t seem to mind paying for more things inside. And to be fair, there was plenty going on around you if you didn’t want to spend more money.

On the bad side, the portaloos were festival-standard, the queues were enormous and towards the end of the night they ran out of beer. But these are all problems they’re able to iron out.

It’s difficult to talk about the parts that genuinely blew me away without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it. All I will say is the live action parts of the film worked really well, to my surprise, as I thought they’d detract from what was going on onscreen. At parts it felt like a really good stage show and it seemed pretty slick and well-rehearsed.

Secret Cinema Back to the Future

In many ways though, I felt the event was a wasted opportunity. Some of the best things about the Back to the Future franchise were completely absent from the event, because of the inflexibility of the 1950s theme. The music in the films is iconic – no matter where I hear it, Power of Love reminds me of Back to the Future – but we didn’t hear it.

I’d have loved to see what they could have done with the 2015 town but, who knows, maybe they’re planning to do the second and third films too.

Tickets are actually still available – despite what many people think – and I would say they’re pretty good value for money.

All in all, it’s a solid nine out of ten for me because of the absence of the 1980s. A hoverboard wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

See some of the pictures here or the full range on our Facebook page

Were you at the event? Tweet me your thoughts @robynvinter

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Anonymous

    Secret Cinema is too expensive, and they do not look after their audience. Don't waste your money to be treated like an idiot.

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