Posts Tagged ‘horror




Realscape Productions & Darkfield

September 8 -29 2018

Treasury Brisbane Arcadia

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Step inside, take a seat, but don’t get comfortable.

The tension builds even as we wait outside the 40ft shipping container, alongside the explosion of colour, sound, story and art of the River of Light to be briefed about what not to do once inside Séance. I’d intended to experience it earlier in the evening but Hamnet was late to go on, giving us a good excuse to chat for longer in the foyer of QPAC’s Cremorne, catch up with MFAC & Queensland Conservatorium graduate, Rebecca Rolle, and find out what everyone is seeing this Brisbane Festival! A popular choice, but with a limited capacity of just 26 punters per show, and a big buzz about this unique piece might make it hard for you to get a ticket, but you must try. And if you miss out at the box office it’s worth waiting nearby in case someone doesn’t turn up (or opts out!). Séance is something completely, thrillingly different.

The UK’s Glen Neath and David Rosenberg (Darkfield) have designed an intense, immersive sensory deprivation experience, using 3D sound technology and sonic vibrations that eerily conjure enough auditory evidence to convince us that we’re in the presence of spirits summoned from beyond the grave. But it’s only suggested, making this as much an investigation into the psychology of an audience, as it is in theatre making. We might argue that that’s the same thing. By blurring perception and reality, the creators of Séance almost convince us that we’re communing with the dead. It’s terrifyingly real…

I’m not a horror fan. In fact, all things considered, I’m pretty okay to take off to Sri Lanka in the final week of the festival and entirely miss that other theatrical / psychological experiment, HORROR. What I mean is, I’ll actually be in Sri Lanka and miss it. Let me know how you go with it.” rel=”attachment wp-att-17501″> Where I’ll be instead of experiencing Jakop Ahlbom’s homage to the horror genre


We’re seated opposite each other, in two rows of red velvet vintage theatre seats along the walls of the narrow space, a long timber table running down the centre, upon which we’re asked to place our hands. Noise-cancelling headphones are found to our left and we’re asked to put these on. If ever we’re super scared we can remove them but we can’t leave… I’m fine for a while, as the lights flicker and go out, leaving us in the blackest of black. We hear various aspects of a well considered, cleverly constructed multi-layered soundscape, placing us smack bang in the middle of the sort of traditional séance our mothers and grandmothers warned us about. Rather than sit for 20 minutes in a a state of high alert, I let the yoga breath kick in and allow my shoulders to drop away from my ears as I try not to frown (because frown lines), listening intently. I hope there’s no audience participation. A sense of dread fills me as I’m told in a whisper that I have a special role to play here. What!?

Alarmed, I close down my eyes.

It’s so dark it makes no difference to open or close them but it must be safer to close them?

How much time has even passed? I gradually become aware that I can feel the warm breath of the speaker in my ear………….


Without giving too much away, our perception of reality is challenged by the power of suggestion and our imagination, and perhaps our fight or flight response is primed! I was rattled, but others will thrill at the suggested horror, and the strange, shared, intense and immersive sensory experience of Séance.


Bat Boy: the musical!


Bat Boy: The Musical

Underground Productions

Schonell Theatre

29 August – 7 September 2013


Reviewed by Jennifer Johnston




No matter what you read up on regarding the story line behind a theatrical production/musical show, nothing prepares you for the story as it unfolds. Of course in reviews and media releases the plots and crucial scenes are not usually revealed, as it would ruin the outcome for the viewer. Thankfully, the PR released on Bat Boy: The Musical, which opened at Queensland University’s Schonell Theatre last week, had kept quiet about its plot and central characters.


All I knew beforehand was this was a dark tale of a half-boy half-bat discovered living in a cave in West Virginia. Based loosely on a story reported in 1992 in the Weekly World News about the discovery of a half boy / bat like creature, writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming wrote a stage adaptation. Laurence O’Keefe, an American composer/lyricist is responsible for the music and lyrics.  In 1997 in Los Angeles Bat Boy: The Musical enjoyed its world premiere.


The show has played  New York’s off-Broadway (2001) and London’s West End (2004).  Underground Productions (Qld Uni’s resident theatre group) present the Queensland premiere of the production, which opened on Friday August 30 and closes on Saturday September 7.


We were pre-warned of the many dark and mature themes and they were played out with dramatic effect. No I will not share them here, but suffice to say, my friend and I both jumped a few times and screwed up our faces during a couple of scenes, slapstick and camp horror themes affecting us.


Think of a boy who is half bat and half human and your mind conjures up images.  Patrick Aitken as Edgar, (the Bat Boy) with the help of some classic vampire inspired make-up (including fangs) was pretty convincing in the opening scene as a helpless and sullen bat, who (which?) somehow ended up in an underground cave, lost to society.


I often have an issue when directors choose an American based show using an Australian cast, as Aussie actors seem to struggle with maintaining an American accent. I almost wish our actors could by-pass the fake accent.  The opening scene with the family members who stumbled upon the cave shouted out in very strong interpretations of an accent, not always maintained throughout the night. No biggie.  But I feel Director Alex could make a decision there – yes or no to the accent.


Our Bat friend is removed from his underground cave to a small community, where we meet the Parker Family – Shelley (daughter) played by Alice England and Meredith (mother) Arlie McCormick. They take Bat Boy in for “observation.”  We  sense this is bible-belt, with the use of subtle humour and religious commentary peppering the dialogue.  Shelley and boyfriend Rick Taylor (played by John Vizcay-Wilson) entertain the audience with a slick rap number and Shelley manages to throw in a couple of tweaking moves – a topical effect.


The scenes jump from quiet dialogues to full cast songs. Full credit goes to Choreographer Bonnie Mullins. We see interesting use of dance and movement.  In one scene at the Slaughterhouse the townspeople of Hope Falls gathered to express concern at the lack of beasts “ready” for killing and sale.  The Black Ninjas (best way to describe the cast dressed and masked in black) provided interesting moments as they flowed in and out of scenes in silent “stealth mode.” Dressed no doubt to support the darker themes of the story.


As Director Alex Feifers said, “I often class this as gothic humour, between religion and ‘adult themes’, the dark but ever present humour shows throughout the production.”


Sheriff Reynolds (Alex Smith) dressed in a style reminiscent of Larry Wilcox from Chips – (an old TV show – maybe before some of your time – google him you will agree!) is the local law enforcement.  He finds himself caught up in the division between what is right in the town and the sentiment against the deaths, which Bat Boy is allegedly responsible for.  Up for re-election (yes topical again), he wants to do the right thing by his voters.  Not often do we see Sheriff Reynolds lift his mirrored sunglasses but we can guess where his allegiance lies.


Dr Parker (Chris Story) – Dad to Shelley and wife to Meredith – laments the lost love he and his wife no longer feel.  His jealousy prompts him into dastardly acts and we see a side of him that is evil and dark.


The opening scene after interval takes us to the gospel church where Reverend Hightower (Joshua Daveta) leads his congregation in some high powered gospel singing and spiritual healing.  I sense Joshua is in his element in this role (in another life he is lead singer in SOUL SIMPLE). Thanks to the pumping music from MD Nick Hollamby and band, the audience with whoops and calls were  jumping in their seats for this song.


There was plenty of parody and slap-stick, Shelley asks Bat Boy,  “How did you find me in the cave? “ Ahhh… I seem to see well in the dark,” he replies.  There is irony, sexual tension, love and jealousy. Mix this in with themes dealing with the horrors of humanity.  The townsfolk at one stage are crying out to Edgar to “Hold me Bat Boy, touch me Bat Boy, make it all turn out alright.” These are deep, short-lived demands, as they quickly turn on Bat Boy and demand his death.


Elements from the Vampire inspired fantasies (stirred along by Stephanie Meyers)  are played out in this production – surprisingly I thought – but maybe that is meant to add to the drama and mysterious allure of a Bat Boy.


My personal picks in performances were by Meredith, Bat Boy and Reverend Hightower. Better not forget a crowd pleasing moment where a six-packed adorned greek-god like fellow enters stage complete with horns, singing about “free-love”.  The audience went wild for him (sorry I could not locate his name in program).


This production has it all!


Support Underground Productions and fill the 440 seat capacity Schonell Theatre. It’s all about experiencing something different and unexpected.  Bat Boy: The Musical will give you that! And that’s all I will share.