SeeSaw_Proms_970x90.jpg
Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

A macabre playground

26 January 2019

Fringe World review: Broad Encounters Productions, A Midnight Visit ·
Old Perth Girls School, East Perth, 25 January ·
Review by Claire Trolio ·

In his 1842 short story “Eleonora”, Edgar Allan Poe writes:

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in waking, to find that they have been upon the verge of the great secret.

Spending an hour in the immersive theatre experience that is A Midnight Visit is, I suspect, no better explained than by that passage.

But I’ll try.

The premise of A Midnight Visit is as follows. The ghost of one of the troubled students of the House of Usher Girls School is channelling the obsessions of Edgar Allan Poe. Until her spirit (or Poe’s, perhaps, it’s unclear) is laid to rest, all who enter must suffer a series of unnerving manifestations.

Coming off a successful season in Sydney, Broad Encounters Productions have travelled West to take over the Old Perth Girls School. The grand venue in East Perth, which operated as a school from 1936 until 1962, is an ideal location for an exploration of the macabre, with its many narrow halls and labyrinthine architecture.

On arrival, you are asked to cloak your items, accept the risk of injury and suspend belief before entering a nightmarish dreamscape. You then explore the elaborately constructed set at your own pace, encountering actors along the way. Characters from Poe’s life and his works weave in and out of your experience but what you witness depends on what path you take.

Each room – I quickly lost count of how many doorways I entered and passageways I traversed – has been utterly transformed. The materials used to effect this metamorphosis are everyday – think polystyrene, cardboard, string and more – but deployed in innovative ways. The result is startling, confounding and immersing.

A Midnight Visit is an ambitious piece of theatre that makes for a fun night out. It doesn’t, however, incite an emotional connection to the characters or narrative. I felt as though I was watching with fascination rather than involving myself in the darkness. Some participants were invited into one-on-one encounters, and while I was willing, I didn’t have this privilege: I wonder what it might have added to my experience.

Entering A Midnight Visit is like stumbling upon a grisly playground for grown-ups. It’s engaging, challenging and innovative, and, whilst it’s completely immersive, you remain in control of your experience.

A Midnight Visit plays Old Perth Girls School until March 3.

Pictured top: Megan Drury in the Sydney production of “A Midnight Visit”. Photo: Tim Da-Rin.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Claire Trolio

Claire Trolio completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) at UWA. She writes about Western Australia for various digital and print media and owns a shop with her sister. For her, the spider swing is the ultimate in playground fun.

Past Articles

  • It’s a strike!

    Local theatre company strikes just the right note, with a feel-good story of female friendship and tenpins, writes Claire Trolio.

  • Grease not the word for a new world

    Catchy tunes and nostalgia aren’t enough to make this new production of an old favourite relevant today, writes Claire Trolio.

Read Next

  • Kiki Saito and Matthew Lehmann in Nils Christe's Before Nightfall. Photo by Bradbury Photography copy Two West Australian ballet dancers on stage - a woman is perched on one pointe, her other leg extended upwards in a split. She arches back, supported by a male dancer. Hitting high notes at 70
    Reviews

    Hitting high notes at 70

    25 June 2022

    Traversing a range of human emotion, West Australian Ballet’s latest triple bill is an evening of beautifully performed contemporary dance, reports Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 6 minutesDance
  • Cabaret festival. A singer wearing a fur hat is on stage with a pianist, guitarist and drummer. We can see the dress circle seats of the theatre in the background lit in a greenish light. Tributes to musical idols light up stage
    Reviews

    Tributes to musical idols light up stage

    23 June 2022

    A cabaret veteran and opera performer bring very different interpretations of the greats of classical, jazz and pop in the second week of the Perth International Cabaret Festival, writes David Zampatti

    Reading time • 6 minutesCabaret
  • A semi circle of 8 singers, with one standing in the centre, facing an audience. They are in a large hall and there are cnadles, chairs and pot plants decorating the floor around them. Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music
    Reviews

    Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music

    20 June 2022

    Armchair poets become legends in their own lunchtimes in Vanguard Consort’s imaginative Saturday Night Poetry, writes Claire Coleman.

    Reading time • 5 minutesMusic

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio