Review: Secret Cinema, Stratford
Secret Cinema, Back To The Future
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford
I stood alone on the platform at Canary Wharf, protected from the brooding skies by curves of glass and silver.
The wind whipped up a whistle. Discarded papers danced.
Stratford, read the orange letters on the front of my train. But it wasn't the red of the DLR.
It was smooth, sexy stainless steel, its blocky mass criss crossed with strange tubes and wires.
"Great Scott," ejaculated the wild-haired passenger service agent as the gull wing doors of his craft flew up, narrowly missing my face.
He grabbed me by the lapels, pulled me inside, dry ice billowing all around and flung me down into a waiting seat. Serco's tightnened up its hiring policy, I thought.
The doors slammed and we were off. I glanced down at this unusual vessel's branding. DeLR.
"Hey Doc, what's this?" I asked as he busied himself with the control panel.
"DeLorean Railway of course," he rasped back, irritated, wide staring eyes fixed on the acceleraor as we barrelled along the raised track towards our destination.
Faster and faster we went, the needle on the speedo creeping ever up. "Hold on," he shouted above the grinding and the groaning.
At precisely 88mph electricity crackled and popped around us, the train appeared to stretch impossibly and the tracks behind us burst into flame.
The world went dark and then exploded into light as our DeLR screeched to a halt in the middle of a beautifully realised 1950s town.
Reality swam back into focus. But it was no less strange than my daydream.
All around crowds of authentically clad Londoners milled about the pristine compound, engaging with the actors, swilling sugar-heavy cocktails and stuffing burgers and hot dogs down themselves.
They'd come for Back To The Future. And Secret Cinema, firmly back on the boil, had gone all out to blend 1980s Hill Valley with its historic root for their entertainment. Jive, jitterbug, hip-hop and breakdance.
Despite being compelled to leave our phones at the door, it was unclear exactly what parts of the event were secret.
Anyone who's been to Secret Cinema's productions knew an extended preamble of food and drinks, plus wonder at its extravagant sets, would be followed by a screening with live performance of significant scenes on the sidelines.
It was no surprise as we sat watching, that Marty, Biff, Doc and the Libyan terrorists all made it off the screen and onto the road round the audience. Spoiler alert; they had a DeLorean. It went very fast too, if not quite reaching 88mph.
But the conceit of secrecy and its enforcement was a sideshow paradox. Far more important was the bonhommie injected both by the consentual enjoyment of a classic and the effort gone to with costumes by almost everyone attending.
On this form, it's simply one of the best things to go to in London.
Modern life is rubbish but we can still dress up, have our phones confiscated and pretend it's several decades in the past.
You just have to pay a premium to gain access to this nostalgic eden.