Leah Wimpenny – self-confessed fan-girl of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (aka the worst film ever made) – had only one thought on her mind when the Prince Charles Cinema announced the director was visiting for a screening: to get there at the earliest opportunity. This isn’t just the story of what happened when Leah met Tommy (and got to see The Room with a bunch of super fans) but why cinema truly comes alive in the theatre.
Visiting the Prince Charles Cinema was a day I had in my diary for months. The buzz of excitement between myself and some of my nearest and dearest friends had been circulating nearly every conversation we had, so it could be understood that four months later, when the day finally arrived, there could well have been some disappointment.
That being said, the experience was one that simply could not have been any better! The cinema has a unique entrance that screams “classic cinema-going” and the staff could not be more helpful. From door staff to bar staff, to stewards, each member of the team at the Prince Charles seems to have a genuine desire to make sure the customer is relaxed and enjoying themselves.
The cinema itself has comfortable seating and an atmosphere that is unique. On entering we could hear the howl of laughter from other cult film fans and the voice of Tommy Wiseau saying “Next Question” as the Q&A took place. I had heard stories about singalongs and audience participation at the cinema, but this would be an entirely new experience, and although one I knew I would enjoy, it exceeded all expectation.
Once the Q&A was over, complete with fans in fancy dress joining Wiseau and Greg Sestero on stage – the film could begin. The only downside of this was having to miss out on a section if you wanted to meet Tommy and Gregg in person, as they waited in the bar for photos and signings.
The queue wasn’t small for the pleasure of meeting some of the world’s most unusual faces in film, but the ability to have a drink and talk to helpful staff members made the experience feel rather quick. We had received an email pre-warning that Tommy could change the prices of things and would often only sign something if it was bought there, which meant I did have to pay £20 for a copy of The Disaster Artist novel (despite the £8 price tag on the back) but all in all I really didn’t mind. To say the prices of the ticket were less than £15, it seemed worth it to get a handshake, a photo and a signature.
Tommy was more than happy to say “hello”, shake hands and smile, even if somewhat uncomfortably, for a photo or five. He seemed quite interested in my Polaroid and even offered to sign the photo. Plus, he was exactly how you would expect him to be in real life, which always makes the experience all the better.
Now, for the screening itself… where to begin! So many genuine fans in one place brings such a new lease of life to the film, and if The Room is a film you usually find yourself laughing at, imagine being surrounded by hundreds of fellow-minded people all in hysterics and shouting at the screen. Examples of such included a “whooooo”, every time the name Tommy came up and a transition shot of San Francisco appeared (a lot).
Other examples included shouts of “you just got here” (when Lisa’s mum arrives and then disappears in the same minute) and “Show that ass! Show that ass!” whenever Johnny (Wiseau) participated in a sex scene.
“F*** her on the stairs,” (when Mark (Sestero) and Lisa have an affair in “the room”), was something my friend shouted which got a response of endless roars of laughter. Another memorable laughter inducer was “there’s somebody at the door” and “who the f*** are you” (if you’ve seen the film, this was in response to the man who appears at the birthday party, but has never before been seen, and yet seems to know the entire plot).
“Take if off! Take it off!” was another esteemed chant from the crowd, along with “F*** the dress” (during the ending) and someone taking it upon themselves to scream “WAKE UP!” (Johnny’s death – sorry for the spoiler) and “Happy Birthday” as the closing credits came on.
A couple of things to be aware of if you do fancy going to watch The Room here, which I wholeheartedly recommend you do: footballs are not allowed, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to chant and count every time the cast throw one (a fair bit).
Under the same principle, chicks aren’t allowed either, but you can join in the endless “cheep cheep cheep cheep” while your fellow fans do the exact same thing. Seriously, it is a very surreal experience, and one that needs be witnessed to be believed.
Also, be prepared for some mission impossible audio to circulate you (you must know the bit), and if you think you have taken enough plastic spoons, trust me, you haven’t.
The amount of spoons thrown in that cinema, and the amount of time people shouting “SPOONS” (myself included) was simply remarkable, and for the entire film it was something that continued to provide a bizarre sense of inexplicable excitement.
When the lights come on and the film is over, the sheer magnitude of spoons is revealed…simply outstanding how something so simple can cause such immense laughter from such a wonderful crowd.
One moment in particular that had me in stitches, was the immense booing when Lisa (Juliette Danielle) declares “I don’t love Johnny,” and also when someone shouted, “Oh the doors shut,” (seriously – the door is never shut).
Honestly there are no words to fully give credit to this experience, and how completely bonkers but wonderful it was. If you are a fan – take the trip to London and visit the cinema. The Prince Charles often do screenings of classics too and I know Grease is a popular choice for musical lovers. Plus you have to give credit where credit is due and it is genuinely nice that Tommy and Greg made the effort to travel overseas for their fans.
I can safely say, after meeting Mr Wiseau and Mr Sestero, I am none-the-wiser on any of the truths. I can say he was wearing three belts and kept his sunglasses on the whole time. I did ask him why the film was called The Room, a question that I feel has baffled a lot of fans, and he responded with: “The Room can be anywhere. Your Bedroom. Your Bathroom. Etcetera.” Hey, it might not have been the answer I was expecting, but it was an answer nonetheless!
If you are going to visit, go with good company and be sure to get involved. Take enough spoons for a small army and really let yourself go with the laughter, in fact, I think it would be impossible not too!
Cinema-going can be an experience I often find rather static at places such as The Odeon, but after The Prince Charles, I think my opinion has been completely shifted. Of course, meeting the director, producer, star and writer of a film, (as well as Greg Sestero) might have had a little something to do with that. I can safely say the trip is a story I will not stop talking about in a hurry and I am honoured to have attended.