The Secret Sessions: The Princess Bride

Posted in Movies, Retrospective by - June 07, 2018
The Secret Sessions: The Princess Bride

The previous movies that The Secret Sessions chose to screen always lined up with more serious stuff. Their first staging of Anchorman, a movie about male incompetence, occurred during the US elections.

Their second, Casablanca, reminded me of the refugee crisis that’s happening right now. It is different this time. For their third session, they chose something light. Something that reminds us of a royal wedding that just happened.

Taking us all to London would have been a tall order for The Secret Sessions. Instead they rented out a theatre in my hood, the East End.

That is not a letdown because they transformed that space into Florin. That’s the setting of Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, by the way. They decorated the whole place, but more on that later.

Meghan Markle is a beautiful woman, a descendant of both landowners and African Americans. Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright), on the other hand, is as white as snow. However, their love and loyalty is the same.

This is also one of the few cases where, so far, reality is just as good as fiction. Markle doesn’t have to choose between a prince and a pirate.

That, however, is Buttercup’s conundrum, who is the fiancee of Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). She was fine with slowly dying inside but her Westley (Cary Elwes) keeps returning from death.

It’s been thirty one years after that quotable story originally graced the screens. And audiences still return to it just as Westley keeps returning to Buttercup. Watching it was a good way to almost escape the heat.

The first thing I noticed while entering was how there were vines making their way up the ceiling. Even the simplest decoration can magically transform a place.

Most of the patrons dressed themselves up like the actors did and take pictures with them. Some of them even tried out the Medieval era torturing device. Or is it Renaissance or Baroque?

Speaking of the torture device, it’s fascinating that this movie can take place within a thousand year period. Second, “bare chested male bondage” is one of this film’s key words on iMDb.

There were food and drinks but the actors shadow casting the movie is worth the admission price. An hour before the movie starts they hang around in character on the 360 degree set.

The actors almost doubled their numbers from six during Anchorman to at least eleven this time. It’s always fun to interact with them – even if they excel at improvisation and I don’t.

My favourite actor is the one who plays Inigo Montoya. That actor also did bit roles during Anchorman and played Rick Blaine in Casablanca. He adds fun and nuance to those archetypes.

Another favourite is the actress who plays the ancient booer. Before the movie began she did a musical number. Watching her sing about large rodents was surreal but I always liked belters.

Just like Anchorman, the shadow cast acted out segments of the film in different areas of the theatre. The surround set helped propel the actors to add their spin to their characters.

The company also decided to turn the movie off during these shadow cast scenes. That way, it gets harder for audiences to compare them to the original actors, and that’s only fair.

Most of the actors are also aware of the differences and let that awareness come through on stage. There’s a lightness to this awareness and it helps them move on to the action-y parts.

Some of them were also glistening with sweat but they’re all clearly having good times. The next one can’t come soon enough. I’m crossing my fingers for a 1960s film.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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