Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future. Photograph: Al Overdrive
Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future. Photograph: Al Overdrive

Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but now that the production is underway, was it worth the wait?

Fifty quid is a lot to pay for an evening’s entertainment, but when I heard Secret Cinema was to stage my partner’s favourite film ever I swallowed my reservations and shelled out. And after the debacle of both suspending ticket sales after a booking system crash (that’s a lunch hour I’ll never get back), not to mention a spate of cancelled shows, Secret Cinema’s homage to Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 classic has finally gone ahead. And the good news is: it’s great.

Arriving at the not-so-secret-location beside the Olympic Stadium in full fancy dress, the ‘residents’ of Hill Valley are treated to a lovingly-recreated film set replete with 1950s-era stores, a high-school dance in full swing, and dozens of actors manfully attempting American accents with varying degrees of success.

Entering into the spirit of things, we wished away the looming carbuncle that is the ArcelorMittal Orbit and danced around with strangers as 1950s cars circled the venue. The queues for food were eye-watering (a 45 minute wait for a so-so £6 hot-dog was a special kind of hell) but the lines for the rides move more quickly as the evening wore on. Indeed, the best view of the production is to be had from the top of the Ferris wheel, where the scale of the undertaking becomes clear.

My advice? If you love Back To The Future, and who on earth doesn’t, you’ll love this. The usual East London gripes apply – overpriced drinks and hipsters abound – and the success of the show is almost certainly dependent on good weather. Nor can you move without an opportunity to spend more of your cash – on haircuts, clothes, records, comics and much else. But if you park your gripes at the door (along with your mobile phone) and make sure to turn up on time, there’s plenty to justify the ticket-price and then some.

A live band introduced the film, which the audience good-naturedly quoted along with as actors played out scenes. Fairground rides, food, drink, shops – the event is billed as an ‘immersive experience’ which is a pretentious way of describing what it is: a party for the fans. And it works, not least because at the heart of the whole evening is a terrific film, one everyone’s seen countless times, a big slice of eighties nostalgia repackaged and sold back to us with cream on top. When the credits rolled, we danced the night away, before we made like a tree – and got outta there.

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