Step through the door of a heritage listed house, and step into a world of drama and whimsy.
Awful/Big Adventure is a show based around Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, who are throwing a party. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the venue, but it certainly was not what I found. As the audience began to arrive, audience being not the most apt of words for what was to come, groups of people that came together were split up. Once we had a group of seven, a member of the company went through the house rules (the usual party rules to not destroy anything), and explained that the company members were wearing black, and the performers were wearing white shirts. He also acknowledged the traditional owners of the land we were on, which was good to see given that the venue was the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts. After this was done, we were led inside.
We each picked up a paper bag from the floor that contained a map of the house, listing rooms such as the ‘Garden Room’ and ‘Mermaid Lagoon’, as well as individual instructions to go to specific rooms. We were then left to explore. One of the first things that stood out was that the volunteers were always watching and following the guests, and each had face paint and makeup in the style of different animals and creatures. This was disconcerting at times, but added to the fantastical nature of the show. They each had keys as well, which if you figured the clues out you could use to open locks.
Each Lost Boy started in a different room, but were soon moving around and interacting with each other and the audience. This is where the whole show could have crumbled. Because of the nature of the show, each performer needed to be individually very strong in their characterisation and in their ability to improvise, and they all were. The level of ability between them was consistently very high, and I frequently found myself completely lost in the characters. Overall, the event was reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, in that the plot was secondary to the motivations and quirks of the characters.
That being said, there was a plot. I was initially worried that the plot could be lost among the constant activity that was happening throughout the house, but the audience was corralled and dispersed to ensure that the story was followed by everyone. I will not go into any more detail about the night, because I think that this show is better experienced the less you know about it.
The only thing I would have liked to see done differently was a speech by Peter Pan. She was reading from her phone, and though this could have been an artistic choice, it did pull you out of the moment and remind you that you are watching a group of actors. This was soon forgotten when the party started up again, however.
The Suicide Ensemble put on a fantastic experience for their guests, for it truly was an experience. Every person who sees this show will be getting a unique glimpse into the world of the Lost Boys, and I highly encourage anyone who has any interest in seeing this show to go along.