Girls School, Perth – until 3 March 2019
There is a recipe for these total immersion theatre experiences. First take the biggest, oldest and rambling-est building you can lay your tiny subsidised hands on, then fill it with a random assortment of skip-foraged junk – candlelit cellars, children’s ball pits, a gothic graveyard accountred with plastic bats and rats, a funeral parlour – topped off with any cobwebby old nonsense left over from the last low budget tour of The Addams Family Musical.
Finally hire a bunch of recent drama school graduates willing to fuse Marcel Marceau with Vincent Price in a series of meaningless mimes and mummeries to confuse and – if you’re extremely lucky – startle the punters.
Nicking all this clichéd old shiz from original creators like America’s Punchdrunk or Britain’s You Me Bum Bum Train may work in a market unfamiliar with their genre – but despite the fact Friday night Perth audiences are often cheerful on cheap Chardonnay by 9pm, without a plot or narrative this really didn’t engage them.
Trouble is, engagement needs a theme, and while A Midnight Visit is entirely Poe-faced with references to Edgar Allan’s works, you’d need more than a passing familiarity with both Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum to make sense of the staged scenes or the extracts shouted at you by the acting madmen.
Aims for dystopian, gets dysfunctional.
Also, at 84 dollars, it’s the most expensive gig in the Perth Fringe and advertised at 60-70 minutes’ duration – yet we were done, dusted, disaffected and out in the courtyard within 45.