Theatre Review: Secretive Thing 215 Is An Orwellian Nightmare You Can’t Wake From

I am being watched. But by whom? The short man lurking a little too casually by the staircase? Or perhaps the girl who just brushed past me with a seemingly cryptic smile? Whoever it is, one thing’s clear: they know. They know that I found something that no good citizen was ever supposed to find. And now – how do I save myself?

Such is the unnerving experience of Secretive Thing 215, an immersive thriller currently running as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2020. Crafted by a mysterious duo known only as ‘Lemon and Koko‘, this role-play unfolds not within the safe confines of a stage but right on our everyday streets. In line with this year’s Fringe theme ‘My Country and My People’, Secretive Thing 215 plunges us into an eerily plausible world where state tyranny and individual freedom collide.

Welcome, Subject 3724

If you’ve read George Orwell’s 1984, you’ll find the reality that Secretive Thing has crafted uncannily familiar. Think mandated mass broadcasts, omnipotent surveillance, and slick newspeak – all the chilling ingredients of a dystopian cocktail harmonious, orderly society.

In this immersive drama, participants are tasked to carry out solo missions under the benevolent, Big Brother-esque eye of the Glasgo Mascon Kline (GMK) Medical Institute. Over the span of an hour, my phone buzzes with an unrelenting stream of Whatsapp instructions, and I scurry along streets and shopfronts to do its bidding. All the while, I’m acutely aware that someone, somewhere, is assessing me – a scrutiny that turns sinister when moral conflicts begin to creep up.

Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Apples are oranges

Blurring all lines between theatre and everyday life, Secretive Thing 215 vividly recreates the totalitarian realm of our nightmares. Despite a somewhat thin plot which relies on dystopian clichés, the taste of paranoia and moral paralysis it offers is fearsomely infectious – lingering long after I’d wrapped up the experience and was on my merry way home. And after all, given that we exist in an era where CCTVs perch in every corner – where everything from our location to our search history to our shopping habits can so easily be tracked – is it really mere paranoia, or the glimpse of a reality less far-fetched than we think?

If you’d like your own trip down the rabbit hole, tickets for Secretive Thing’s second run from 16 to 19 January are fast selling out. Be sure to submit your applications efficiently, subject – GMK Medical Institute will be awaiting you.

Secretive Thing 215 runs from 9–12 and 16–19 January 2020 as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2020. Specific locations and timings will be disclosed upon registration. Tickets are priced at S$27 via SISTIC.

Lifestyle Writer

Jolene has a major sweet tooth and would happily eat pastries for all meals. When she’s not dreaming of cheesecake, she can be found in the dance studio, working on craft projects, or curled up with a good book.