Review by Korey Brennan.
In the great tradition of arriving early to a new place, I found myself waiting before the appropriately titled “Ecclectica esoteric books & curiosities”. Shortly after, the other patrons arrived and were greeted by a man who introduced himself as “The Butler”, who invited us inside the charming store. The cloying warmth and smell of lavender hit me instantly, solidifying the aesthetic of the performance. Browsing the curiosities and antiquities, I soon found myself immersed in this world. I was equally as impressed with the table which we were invited to sit at. A grand affair, with place settings, and drinks, as well as period costumes and props that we were encouraged to use to further our integration into this world.
Following this incredibly aesthetically pleasing setup, it was somewhat disappointing that the opening scene had some clunky dialogue, and several line mistakes were quite wince worthy for the assembled participants. Upon being introduced to the hostess of the party, Mrs Delamere, I found myself entranced with her mysterious nature, and appreciated the convention in having what appears to be the main character dictated by the others, who spoke her dialogue for her, though attention must be drawn to her hair and makeup, which matched the period of the piece perfectly. All characters in the performance possessed impeccable costumes and makeup, a running theme for all characters, which deserves praise to be directed towards costume designer, Nigel Munroe Wallis.
The performance was redeemed from its flaws, however, with the ghost story. Upon donning my blindfold with the other participants, the lights were extinguished, and we were left with nothing but candlelight, the heat, and the smell of lavender. Soon after, everyone at the table was startled by the thunder that assaulted them, the sound effect almost coming from every side in the confined space. Cut off from our basic sense of sight, we were left exposed, and thus fell victim to the horrific tale of Isabella Kruger, a 23 year old New Yorker, who moved to Brisbane with her new husband, only to encounter an unexpected problem in her new marriage. I found myself enthralled in the tale of this young woman, and her engagement with the other audience members was measured and appropriate. I often found myself being leaned on, or spoken to more intimately, though I would assume other audience members also experienced these moments of connection with the actor. After instructions to remove our blindfolds, I saw that Mrs Delamere and the antiquities dealer had disappeared, and we were left with the Butler, passing around photographs. After a rather tedious linking of the dots, which was told through the story anyway, we were informed that the experiment must have been a success for us all to share this cathartic experience. Upon leaving I felt as though Ella’s story was fulfilled and resolved, though the purpose and conclusion of “The Curiosity Experiment” itself, was missing. I would recommend seeing this show if you appreciate classic campfire ghost stories, and immersive period performance art.
Written by Korey Brennan
The Curiosity Experiment runs for the following dates at 7:30pm.
5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 21st of May