‘CONFESSION: An Immersive Horror Experience’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by May 31, 2017

‘CONFESSION: An Immersive Horror Experience’ is the latest concept from Dark Psychic Productions, one of Perth’s leading amateur theatre companies who are eager to bring new ideas and concepts to their audiences.

This realistic, genuinely chilling horror presentation for a mature audience is presented in association with Phoenix Theatre Inc. in the Landmark and Historical Memorial Hall’s ‘Round Room’, at 435 Carrington Street, Hamilton Hill. Live theatre at a sensible price.

This 45-minute, extremely creepy experience starts at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until the 10th June. There are no matinées.

These shows rely upon a build-up of atmosphere, and so please note that there is a lockout for the show, no latecomers – even if the Queen arrives.

With their sales of programmes, the producers have over the years, raised hundreds of dollars for charities; the proceeds of this show’s programme and raffle (prizes donated by Skyira Giftware) will support the education of underprivileged children in India.

 

The Round Room is an intimate space that is actually an oval, about 7 by 12 metres. Normally used for weddings and private parties, the pristine appearance has been changed to a large, rundown dwelling, with tattered drapes, cobwebs, and piles of garbage strewn around. The audience seating is incorporated into the set, so that you are within arm’s reach of the actors.

The lighting is at a minimal level, with UV globes ensuring that many objects glowed. The room thermostat was set at ‘Baltic’ – but do not worry, there is hot chocolate after the show.

Even Shaun Griffin’s programme, with Jarred Sharman’s photographs, helped set the chilling scene. Ryan‘s lighting design was operated by Alison Kovacs. Zack Inglis filmed the ‘home movie’ style of video – an integral part of the story. Other than the cast, the video featured Dan Rooney, Mark Langdon, Eleanor Weller-Brown, Kylie Griffin, Craig Rickards, Alison Kovacs and Gabi Guidone. Ben Albert and Krispin Maesalu operated the projection.

The fight choreography was supervised by Kate Lloyd and Ryan S. McNally.

Simone Ostle and Ben Albert designed the chilling soundscape that surrounded the room. The musical director, Krispin Maesalu, perfectly captured the mood with his low-level music. Did I notice the eerie squeak of a wine glass rim blended in with the music and sound effects?

Ryan S. McNally and Alison Kovacs were the production managers for this well thought out drama.

 

       The room is silent, and the tintinnabulation of a piano is heard. You can hear the pouring rain and distant thunder.

       The front door crashes open, and is quickly slammed shut by a ragged, panting man. He gasps as he tries to re-orientate himself. This is Daimon (Ryan S McNally), covered in scars and with one eye missing. He rips the protective binding from his forearms and removes his coat. The beasts outside have a poisonous bite and he must take every precaution. Daimon lives with his adoring mother, Hanna (Devetta Ridgwell) who is difficult to care for.

         A tall man walks in between the piles of cardboard boxes, crossing the room towards Daimon. This is Daimon’s Nemesis (Zack Inglis). He tries to talk the petrified man into making a run for safety, but with ‘beings’ banging on the doors and windows, Daimon has doubts.

        Daimon looks at his video camera and the last recording. It seems to give him solace, but then he panics and becomes distressed. Has he an unknown guilty secret? The main door smashes open and a young girl staggers in. It is a stranger, Mara (Kate Lloyd) looking for sanctuary.

       In this post-apocalyptic world, can there be any hope for survival?

 

The ‘Infected’ were Pat McMahon, Jessica Langdon, Nikita Harwood, Olivia McGavock and Matthew Arnold.

In charge of his first play, and mentored by Ryan S. McNally, director Pat McMahon has captured the mood perfectly. The director has stimulated every sense, with visuals and lighting that will chill you to the spine, noises that had one audience member put his fingers in his ears and bury his face in a cushion. Then there was that strange sweet smell, which filled the room.  Psychology student and actor, Devetta, gave some professional tips on how to disturb the psyche and ensure maximum fear.

The team has re-created all the creepiness and terror of the William Castle and Hitchcock films of the 60s and 70s. Jessica Langdon’s wonderful, gory makeup was highly realistic, with each character having their own unique, gruesome facial damage.

The storyline is original, and the actors’ quiet approach to the dialogue holds you listening to their every word. The delivery is well paced and a genuine tension is created.

It is many years since I last saw a stage horror production that worked as well as this. Cinema has the ability to edit and add computer-generated effects, but on stage, this is one of the hardest genres to present convincingly. Many congratulations.

Put on your coat, scarf and incontinence pads and try to see this clever, nerve-racking production – which is almost sold out already.