Last month, while England was busy celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, somewhere in central London robots were serving diners at a pop-up restaurant hidden within a pop-up cinema.
Not just any restaurant. And not just any pop-up. Secret Restaurant is run by alums of Copenhagen’s Noma, London’s St John and San Francisco’s Jardiniere restaurants, and for £65 ($100), diners dressed in boiler suits and camouflage enjoyed a three-course meal with wine and Champagne called the Future Paradise Dinner Experience. The unsmiling robot-waitress simply took orders and told diners that she feels no emotion, and is only there to serve them dinner. What kind of tip do you leave for that?
And this is not just any cinema. Secret Cinema take over giant warehouses and create large-scale interactive cinema experiences, immersing the audience in the story by allowing them to step inside the film (also a secret until they arrive) – real props, actors, soundtracks and all.
The dinner-and-a-show that is Secret Restaurant and Secret Cinema pops up for one month at a time. Last month the movie was Prometheus, premiering the same day as the big screen release (with the blessing of Ridley Scott no less). The warehouse was converted into a futuristic spaceship, complete with actual props and visual effects from the film (with Radiohead collaborating on parts of the soundscape), and the restaurant hidden behind a random, signless door (apparently, light and healthy fare like salmon and mixed vegetables are the foods of the future). Participants – there were over 25,000 tickets sold for the pop-up in June – were asked to dress up and then sworn to secrecy. Similar to Sleep No More, you’re encouraged to stumble through the space, explore, get lost (and flirt with robot-waitresses).
It’s bizarre, it’s intense, and luckily for us, Secret Cinema is coming to New York this fall, but remember, tell no one.