The Theatre Project That Has Redefined The Theatre Experience

London-based Secret Studio Lab’s take on Broadway: Keep the audience guessing, moving and participating.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
London-based Secret Studio Lab’s take on Broadway: Keep the audience guessing, moving and participating.
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What’s coming here? The wellreceived Project Mayhem staged in London and Hong Kong? Or something else entirely?

This is how it works – or doesn’t, in the traditional sense: You will have no idea what kind of theatrical performance you have paid for. You will be moved from location to location to location. You will learn where the first location is only on the day itself – via text message, like with illegal raves and flash mobs.

And you’ll get a password for it. You will be told how to dress. The cast will be right up close and personal with you because you may be invited to participate (you can say no).

“The whole point of Secret Studio Lab is to keep the audience guessing,” says Scottish actor/founder Richard Crawford. “That anything could happen.”

It’s this level of subterfuge and creative thinking that has given the Lab such cachet and success.

Since its first show in New York, the company has put on 16 performances (called Secret Theatre Projects) in four countries. They’re a mix of original plays and adaptations such as Reservoir Dogs and Edward Scissorhands.

Crawford founded Lab in 2008 because he felt the theatre scene had become predictable. “The same shows on Broadway and the West End were played all the time, and geared towards tourists,” he says. “It lost its appeal a little.”

He wanted to perform for people who lived in the city where the performance was held, and create sitespecific shows outside the auditorium – his way of reclaiming the creativity and mercurial nature of theatre.

Crawford was inspired to produce a play in Singapore when he visited a friend here last November. He saw the island as a growing metropolis, and was back in December scouting for locations, partners and local actors to join the team. “The shows are, in theory, set in the context of the city, so I try to use local cast members as much as I can,” he says. “If all the protagonists are Caucasians, it would cause a subconscious disconnect.”

A recent performance in Hong Kong included a speed boat ride to a haunted mansion.

So, what awaits Singapore theatre fans? Crawford says: “The evening will be fun and thrilling. And leave your heels at home.” - CH

The show opens on May 3 and will run until June 10. Tickets are $99-$150. Minimum age requirement: 21 years.