Review: Secret Theatre’s new Hong Kong show will leave you sweating for more

The night out starts tamely enough with a three-course dinner, but with cast members (including Hong Kong model Rosemary Vandenbroucke) on the prowl for ‘space monkeys’, the immersive production soon dishes up the mayhem

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 November, 2017, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 November, 2017, 8:35pm


Project Mayhem

by Secret Theatre Project

4.5 stars


Secret Theatre will deal a brutal body blow to any preconceptions you may have about a night out at the theatre with its latest Hong Kong production, Project Mayhem.

The immersive theatre company’s third show in Hong Kong launched last week, and social media feeds have been filling up with shots of participants wearing camouflage boiler suits and cryptic posts about space monkeys (it’ll all make sense later).

Richard Crawford’s immersive Secret Theatre back in Hong Kong: prepare for Project Mayhem

It’s an edgy, visceral show and, while we don’t want to spoil it for anyone, you may have guessed from the promo material that it’s based on a certain film and book about a violent organisation whose first (and second) rules are that you can’t talk about it.

The 13 cast members from three countries (including Hong Kong model and It Girl Rosemary Vandenbroucke) are by and large excellent, and their experience gained from previous Secret Theatre shows allows them to quickly identify those who want to get fully involved in the show (such as my companion that night), and those who prefer to remain more passive observers (such as me).

The immersion begins during the three-course dinner curated by Butchers Club (if you choose that option), with cast members prowling the dining room, dishing out attitude and preparing participants for the mayhem to come.

During the night, the more active participants (including my companion) are press-ganged into a range of activities, including a strenuous workout that made me glad I opted out, considering the flushed and sweaty faces. And the level of immersion was so great that it was sometimes hard to tell who was a part of the cast and who was an audience member – an obvious mark of success for any immersive theatre production.

Back in Hong Kong: Secret Theatre Project, where you’re part of the action

By the time Project Mayhem – produced by Secret Theatre founder and artistic director Richard Crawford – reaches its gripping and surprisingly emotional climax, participants will feel as though they have been put through the wringer and have been involved in something truly subversive.

“It’s really hard to think how they could have done this any better,” my companion said, as we left after the show. However, her leg muscles were killing her the next day – perhaps this space monkey took the immersion during the forced workout a bit too far.

Secret Theatre Project Mayhem, until Dec 10, various times, location provided on purchase of ticket through Ticketflap