When I first moved to Brisbane, I spent my first few months working in what was once Prince Consort Backpackers. The space is perhaps now better known to Valley visitors as live music venue the Foundry, located next to the Elephant Hotel. But the labyrinth of rooms, with their bunk beds and ineffective ceiling fans, remains upstairs, far from the pounding music downstairs. For a brief spell, the brains behind Ruckus Slam, one of Brisbane’s finest spoken word groups, have taken over this curious, forgotten place, and have transformed it into Morning, an asylum with a few faces you might just recognise.
Walt, I don’t think we’re in Neverland anymore…
Meet the doctors, versions of Tinkerbell and Captain Hook, and their patients, Peter and Wendy, and immerse yourself in their stories of faith, trust, and small white tablets of pixie dust. Partly a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s already pretty dark classic fairytale, this fully interactive theatre experience is really something else – tragic, twisted, and at times, just plain scary. Superbly acted all round, it’s almost a shame it’s not more linear, if only so you can experience every moment.
But it’s this uncertainty of movement, this changing of places and paces, that makes Straight On ‘Til Morning so good. Just when you’re getting comfortable, gearing up to ask questions, or to play a game with Wendy, there’s every chance you’ll be hauled out of the room for your appointment with the doctor – make sure you pick the nice one! – or rushed away by Peter, trying to keep a tight hold on those happy thoughts.
I was particularly impressed with how close to the original story this re-imagining stayed. For anyone only familiar with the Disney version of Peter Pan, it might be quite confronting to see just how dark Barrie’s work actually is; the writers certainly didn’t have to reach too far into the source material on their hunt for harrowing ideas.
And even with the audience being moved around, it’s still easy to follow the whole story, as everyone is present for the key moments, though they are able to choose to leave a scene when asked, or stay and see how things pan out.
On a more personal level, seeing my old stomping ground turned into an asylum had an uncanny appeal all of its own. Those corridors sure don’t feel like they used to!
The show is carried by just five actors, all doing a fantastic job at interacting with audience members, and getting them to where they need to be. Occasionally there’s a tangent that stretches a little too far and can’t come back around, or a few too many questions asked that don’t have replies in the script, but the cast are quick on their feet, and are able to get things back on track.
Poignant, laced with tension, and at times heart-achingly hard to watch, Straight On ‘Til Morning takes a classic tale, and makes it new, placing an even darker twist on an already grim fairytale.
Reviewer attended the May 13th performance
Straight On ‘Til Morning is presented by Ruckus, and is performed at The Foundry, in Fortitude Valley.
Audience members will be met outside the Foundry Records store front at 7.30pm.
Tickets include a drink at Greaser after the show (you might well need it!), and with just 16 audience members per show, it pays to get chatting outside the venue as you wait to be admitted – odds are you won’t be with your group for long.