BWW REVIEW: VISITING HOURS Challenges The Audience to Relinquish Control As They Enter A Surreal World
Friday 9th February 2018, 8:30pm, Kings Cross Hotel (Enter Via DIVE BAR On William Street)
Asking the audience to put their trust in a team of drugged up, delusional and demented doctors and nurses, VISITING HOURS is an intriguing immersive theatre experience. John Harrison, Constantine Costi and Michael Costi's 2016 sell out show VISITING HOURS returns to KXT with an updated, extended and improved version staged over the 4 levels of the Kings Cross Hotel.
Without giving too much away VISITING HOURS admits the audience in as potential patients to a bizarre medical facility that uses unorthodox methods of treatment for obscure ailments and concerns which are never really explained. Admitted in groups of 20, each bearing numbered and colour coded wristbands, each participant is likely to have an individual experience, leading to interested chatter when the group reconvenes at the end of the show.
The detail in the work is incredible throughout with somewhat realistic recreations to have the participants believe they have stepped into a clinical world. Benjamin Brockman's lighting is full of shadows and dark mysterious corners along with the trademark ominous smoke to the point that at one stage the only safe way to move forward is to feel the walls and step gingerly. Directors John Harrison and Michael Dean have varied the performance styles for each space, requiring differing levels of participant engagement throughout as this is not a passive immersion but often a quite active participation. The large 25 person cast is consistently strong with a range of talent that handle audience interaction, beautiful jazz music, ethereal operatic and comic dramatic styles.
Whilst many immersive works allow for passive observation of scenes unfolding as the participant moves through a venue, VISITING HOURS definitely requires active participation which may push people out of their comfort zone. Be prepared to challenge your ideas of personal space, wariness of shadows and the warning on stairs is definitely valid. Go with an open mind and the trust that you will come out the other end unscathed if not a little bewildered.
Kings Cross Hotel