On Revealing Lyric Hammersmith’s Secret Theatre: Mark (Scrooge) Shenton

Secret Theatre

Dear Mark (Scrooge) Shenton,

I’m frustrated and saddened by your tweet last night which has revealed what the show is in the first (although happens to be the second) show of the Secret Theatre season from Lyric Hammersmith. Your deliberate tweet was unnecessary, which even you hint at in the tweet itself: “I don’t usually tweet in the interval of a 1st night”, so why did you feel the need to?

You said in your follow up tweets that the show in question has “no embargo on revealing the title”,  and how “is it possible to review Secret Theatre and NOT reveal what it is”. I guess my answer to this is simple: film critics don’t write the ending of the films in their reviews because it’s classed as a spoiler, the same can be said for television critics on season finales. They hint, give a suggestion, and encase any spoiler with very clear, very purposeful SPOILER warnings so the reader knows not to read on should that they rather not know.

Your tweets didn’t give that option, they gave away the secret, and here I am only speculating but I have a feeling you took much delight in being the first to break the secret, why else would you tweet at the interval, something you don’t normally do? Like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, you stole Christmas Secret Theatre from me. The marketing campaign and all that Sean Holmes and his team at Lyric Hammersmith have done to offer a real sense of excitement to attending the theatre with this new concept (albeit being replicated elsewhere this year such as Open Court) was dashed on the rocks when you tweeted. It’s such a shame that you felt the need to throw out such a spoiler. Where is your sense of commitment to the magic that theatre holds an audience? Why did you feel it necessary to wreck the party? Because that’s the way it feels – you’ve just wrecked a party that Holmes and his team have set up for my fellow audience members and I – and you’re not even sorry for it.

You have already argued that in order to review a show it requires you to mention the name of that show, but hasn’t the show already got a name? Secret Theatre 2. That is the name. The contents of that show can be discussed in a review, and I know to avoid it because I want to wait until I get the chance to experience the secret that Lyric Hammersmith are promoting before reading about it.

I’m not the only one to be frustrated by your spoiler either. Several cast members tweeted their disappointment, numerous theatre fans voiced their disappointment and even some Lyric Hammersmith staff felt the need to retweet my tweet that voiced my own disappointment.

There are no guidelines to secret theatre and there was no embargo, true, but wasn’t the very nature of how this whole season has been set up an indication of how it should be treated beyond the walls of the theatre? Don’t you want to join in that secret and let others discover for themselves? I’m not naive Mark, I know that I could so very easily discover all the show names easily by accident or on purpose through a misplaced tweet or reading a review. I know that realistically secret theatre can only be kept secret for so long, but you didn’t even give it a chance.

That’s what’s disappointing. You didn’t give it a chance.

At least some of your colleagues have managed to keep the spirit of Christmas Secret Theatre alive in their tweets, and whilst the reviews might be revealing (it will be interesting to see if editors run with the Secret Theatre 2 title or the show within the show title) at least I will know to avoid them, and your Twitter stream from now on.

I’m seeing Secret Theatre 1 on Thursday, and a part of me has every intention of telling you what it is, but honestly? Where is the fun in that?

With disappointment,
Jake (not Scrooge) Orr