Do you like scary stories, dear reader? (This review really should be read in a low whisper of a voice with an upper-class English accent for best effect)
You do? Oh – in that case – you are in luck.
This year at Melbourne Fringe Watson have a story filled with scares to tell and I braved the darkness of the Melbourne Gaol to bring you this review.
Previous efforts from this performance troupe has seen them recreate some of Shakespeare’s greatest fight scenes and embark on an interplanetary mission to battle terrifying alien creatures sporting celebrity names. Both of which have been quite light-hearted affairs. Their latest effort ‘Who’s Afraid of the Dark?’ is an altogether different kettle of fish.
As I arrived at Melbourne Gaol the usher welcomed me and said that should the show prove too scary there is a safety word which I could call-out and I would be escorted from the venue to safety.
Safety word? O-kay…
Tegan Higginbotham then loomed out from the dark of a corridor and pointed me in the correct direction for the room in which the evening begins and I took my seat with the rest of the audience. She then proceeded to tell us all in the room a little bit of the grisly history of the venue and re-iterated the usher’s warning of how scary this evening will be and emphasised the safety word once more. Tegan was then joined by Adam McKenzie who made his entrance in typically jocular manner before events began to take a turn for the ghostly and he had to be rescued through the timely arrival of Liam Ryan brandishing a bible. To say any more would surely spoil the show.
So – what can I say about this show without ruining the surprises?
Like previous efforts from this group this is a very funny show with plenty of laughs and silly humour, but this is contrasted with a rich seam of scares throughout. The atmosphere of terror in the show is accentuated by the thorough use of the venue itself – Melbourne Gaol and really showcases the acting range of the three lead performers.Particular praise must also be given to those involved in support who help transform the gaol from mundane aging bricks and mortar to a creepy portal to Hell through great use of sound, lighting and careful prop placement.
This show certainly provides laughs and scares in equal measure and I would recommend it in a heartbeat – if my heart were still beating. Alas, I too fell victim to the ghosts of the gaol and have now joined their ranks, but unlike that poor attempt at scares I just typed this show is pitch-perfect.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Watson is on at the City Watch House, Old Melbourne Gaol until October 2nd.