Friday was an uncomfortable day at work. It was uncomfortable because I was wearing a suit. There was a purpose to this sudden wardrobe shift – that evening I was heading to The Other Cinema for some vintage cinematic fun.
As I neared the venue I was relived that I hadn’t opted for smart casual, the pavement was filled with impeccably dressed characters queuing up outside. As soon as I stepped through the door of the Troxy I was transported back to the golden age of cinema. From the Usherettes greeting people as you walk in, to the vintage style stub you are given, it really felt like walking into some sort of time warp. The building itself is an amazing space: opened in 1933, it oozes art deco style. After being shown to our seats I took a wander around some of the themed stalls at the back of the auditorium. There were a good selection of pies that smelt delicious, but thankfully no jellied eels! I settled on a slice of carrot cake and a cup of tea, served in a proper china cup of course. I also treated myself to a packet of humbugs to suck on during the film. Before the lights dimmed for the main feature, there were a selection of acts including dancing from The Lady Grey’s, an organ recital and of course some good old fashioned sing-a-long action. There was also the chance to get to know the people sitting on your table a little better through a game that involved the flower all attendees were asked to bring. My only criticism was that a couple of the acts didn’t use microphones which, if you were sitting near the back as I was, made it nearly impossible to hear them over a auditorium filled with chattering people.
The film itself was an inspired choice, David Lean’s classic Brief Encounter, a cinematic masterpiece as beautiful as it is romantic, with some fantastic lines that got a few rumbles of laughter from the audience. Watching such a wonderfully emotive film in a candle-lit theatre, surrounded by vintage dresses and tuxedos, was without doubt one of the most immersive and enchanting film experiences I have had to date. I couldn’t help think about my grandmother, she would have been 23 when Brief Encounter was released; she may well have gone to see it at the local picture house. It’s fascinating to think how much a simple pass time like watching a movie has changed in one lifetime.
The Other Cinema is the latest offering from the minds behind The Secret Cinema, a cocktail of film and immersive theatre, exploring the power of shared experience and community. They will be showing a different film each month on the same day at venues around the globe. This was their first run and saw over 5,000 people attend over 4 days at venues in London, Edinburgh, Bournemouth and Norwich. CS will be catching up with Creative Director and Founder, Fabien Riggall to find out more about these fantastic projects in the very near future.