An immersive theatrical experience conceived just in time for Halloween, this production by Spark Youth Theatre is a spooky ghost story given life by an energetic group of young performers.
Making imaginative use of the heritage-listed Petersham Town Hall, Haunted asks the audience to follow our instincts and indulge our curiosity as we explore the labyrinthine architecture of the building in order to discover and construct this story. As an audience on foot, lingering in the eerie vastness of this historical hall, our senses are heightened as our spines are chilled and our hairs are stood on end by the anticipation created by things that go bump in the night. A group of teenagers soon burst into the hall and, fuelled by alcohol and rebellious thrills, they explore the halls and share stories of its history. We listen in inquisitorially as they discuss its days as a debutante hall and the tragic tale of a debutante couple who didn’t quite fit the mould and soon met their demise.
Sparking their own curious natures and inflammatory sense of danger, the group play a game of hide and seek which soon transforms into something supernaturalistic. The group disperse throughout the extensive layout of the building and we are compelled to explore as the decades-old story of the debutante couple is brought to life.
The ensemble cast are a superb group of young actors. During the demanding physical performance, all cast members demonstrated a keen ability in the use of elements of time and space such as architecture, repetition, duration, tempo and kinaesthetic response, to great effect.
The sound design by Nate Edmonson is nothing short of amazing as it works surreptitiously in the background to keep us on the edge. We explore the building, fearful and terrified, as the chilling, frightening noise surrounds us on our journey. Ben Brockman’s lighting design ominously complements the aural aesthetic and works to solidify our jaunts between the natural and the supernatural.
It is a beautiful thing to watch when actors pare back the often extraneous, distracting elements of a performance and purely use their instrument to physicalise a story. The level of effort and commitment must be increased but the result is a greater depth and skill of conveying your story to the audience, particularly in such an intimate experience as this. Directorial duo Felicity Nicol and Scott Parker have done a spectacular job of exploring an array of critical topics and presenting their message in a fresh, original way.
I felt like I was a character in a horror movie as I tip-toed throughout the halls and peered cautiously around every corner, just in case something jumped out and scared me – as inevitably ended up happening!
I love going to see a piece of theatre that is different; something that surprises me, is unpredictable and takes a unique (even if risky) approach. I strongly believe that theatre (even art as whole) is supposed to be bold, provocative and disturbs the air in some way. For me, Haunted is a piece that travels down this particular road. It is bold and unpredictable from the creative concept right through to its execution.
Venue Petersham Town Hall (Petersham), 29th Oct – 8th Nov 2019
Director Felicity Nicol and Scott Parker
Concept Felicity Nicol
Created and Performed by The Spark Ensemble
Cover Photo by Ellie Oppen-Riley
Production Shots by Patrick Boland
DISCLAIMER: This and all other reviews posted by A Millennial with an Opinion/JTA Official/Jessie Trompp are the honest personal opinions of a theatre-goer and are not reflective in any way of the opinions of others who have seen the production.