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REVIEW: Secret Theatre, Oxford Playhouse

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I had such good fun on Wednesday trying out Secret Theatre at the Oxford Playhouse, which I mentioned in last week’s Muddy Guide. It’s a series of 5 shows over a fortnight (though now we’re nearly through the first week), where you don’t know what you’re seeing until the curtain goes up.

Most are held at the Playhouse itself but my play was ‘Show 6’ (I know, I said there were 5 shows, don’t ask me why!) at the teeny tiny Burton Taylor Theatre around the corner, and all I knew was that it started at 9pm, lasted between 45 minutes to an hour and was for 14+. Which kind of made the mind boggle.

I’d never been to the BT Theatre before, and the waiting room – that’s really what it feels like –  is so miniscule it’s like you’re at the dentist, or a student again, but it was blasting out some quite funky music and my mum and I bought a glass of wine each so we were pretty happy. If I went back again though, I’ll plan my pre-play drink elsewhere I think.

The theatre holds 55 people, so you can imagine how intense a space it is, and I was actually quite nervous about seeing Show 6, in case it was rubbish and I’d just wasted an hour of my life on some pretentious dross.



The Secret Theatre actors

BUT… it turns out it the play was by flippin’ Mark Ravenhill (he famously of Shopping & F***king)! So there was a healthy dose of red siren obscenities, incest and drugs, and a bloke wearing gold lamé shorts and not much else through the whole thing. My mother looked like she hadn’t had so much fun in years.

Neither of us could work out what was going on half the time, but with the three fantastic actors in touching distance and the play so fast and furious, and everything in the round so lots of movement around the stage, it was really fantastic. I loved it.

Show 6 has finished now or I’d suggest if you’re feeling in the mood for adventure that you see it – now there’s only 2, 3, 4 and 5 left on the go, but if I could tell you what they’re about, it would be kind of ruining the point!

And the point is, for me at least, is that the not-knowing kind of electrifies your night out, creates a bit of frisson and anticipation, a bit like a pop-up restaurant can make eating out so much more interesting.

There’s one week left to go. If you’re looking for something different to do, and can make it into Oxford, book in and prepare for a surprise. I bet you like it.




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