In this Cultural Story, I'm sharing with you my review of a new original theatrical experience "Darkness". I was invited to attend a special preview performance of this play last week on Wednesday 1st February.
"Darkness" premiered at "The Library" a specifically designed building which was the old Newtown School of Arts. The Library is decorated in gothic style and contains a bar called "The Apothecary". The Library draws you into the play by creating that gothic horror feeling with displays of stuffed animals, skeletons and antiques. I really enjoyed the pre-drinks at the Library. The bar is open 1 hour before the performance.
There is also another bar upstairs that you can enjoy.
"The past haunts the present, and the present is a kaleidoscope of infinite possibilities.
Set in the near future of wild storms and oppressive social controls, Darkness transports audiences into overlapping worlds of mystery, transformation, fantasy and wonder. A site-responsive theatrical experience like no other; rich and seductive, gothic and resonant.
Amid thunder and lightning, five deeply-curious and combative friends defy orders to take refuge in an abandoned house, now an eerie mansion of lost things. At its centre is the infamous poet Byron who, confronted by nature’s wrath, turmoil and plague, is caught in a tug of war of life and death.
Inspired by an extraordinary gathering in 1816, Darkness is created by artists Andrew Bovell, Zoey Dawson, Dino Dimitriadis, Dan Gioannoni and Megan Wilding. It comes alive with potent and entertaining stories as the cohorts trade brilliant tales, conjure spirits and look to the past to contemplate the future. It is a colliding landscape of rich imagery, startling transformation, flashbacks and forebodings.
Both intimate and epic, the adventurous production explores themes of savage nature, hunger for connection, life, death and the desire to be reborn and renewed. Dare to look into the future."
Going into the play, I had not fully read the synopsis and didn't know it was loosely based on that famous time in the summer of 1816 at the Villa Diodati, when Mary Shelley (accompanied by Claire Clairmont and the mother of Lord Byron's daughter, Allegra), Percy B. Shelley, Lord Byron and his physician Dr John Polidori have a competition (suggested by Lord Byron) to see who could write the best horror story. This gave birth two iconic works of art: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and John Polidori's The Vampyre (which later influenced Bram Stoker's Dracula).
1816 is best known for being "The year without a summer" due to the eurption of Mount Tamboro in Indonesia which sent volcanic ash into the atmosphere causing the following summer across North America, Europe and Asia to be dark, dismal and wet. Lord Byron based his apocalyptic poem "Darkness" on this event.
This was the perfect dismal dark backdrop for the telling of horror, doomsday gothic tales.
Once you understand the premise of the play, it really does all come together and enriches the experience.
The play is extremely intimate and housed in a smallish space. The Audience sits around the performance. The only set is a bath tub, some candlesticks, a stage with a movable part that juts in and out like a boat. Also there are doors above the stage through which the performers walk and create shadows.
We were lucky and got to sit at the front row close to the stage. This really immersed us into the performance and at moments, it felt like each performer was talking directly to us.
Each of the five main characters tells a story. Each story is both haunting and scary and everything weaves together through Lord Byron's own experimentation with death or something close to that. I have to admit at times I was experiencing fear and excitement, all enhanced by the lighting and soundtrack design.
The main cast was made up of:
Caroline L. George as "Mary" - brilliant love her!
Jerome Meyer as "Percy" - amazing, such a performance
Imogen Sage as "Claire" - in the role of Claire Clairmont (step sister to Mary Shelley and one of Lord Byron's lovers) a most mesmerising performance
Alec Snow as "Byron" - a powerful performance
Zoran Jevtic as "Polidori" - another mesmerising and powerful performance
Overall, each performer did their part to perfection. As we were so close to the performers we could "see" them truly inhabit each role just by looking into their eyes and seeing them breathe.
The costumes were gothic-chic. Lots of leather, straps, velvet, fur lined coats. Gothic but with a very modern touch. I think the simplicity of the costumes added more to the imagination and enhanced each performers' performance.
We truly enjoyed experiencing "Darkness". The whole immersive experience starts from the moment you enter "The Library" is AMAZING. It really is the perfect backdrop for the telling of the macabre and horror of gothic tales.
The performance is 90 mins with no interval.
The performance is available in The Library till Sunday 19 February 2023, so be quick and get your experience of the Darkness.
I hope you enjoyed this cultural story! Please do subscribe to my blog (see various (they are irritating and I am sorry about that) pop up boxes or sign up in the box below). Drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM me on my Instagram (@paint_bytashijadebell) and let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for me. I always love hearing from you.
Yours Truly with Lots of Love,Tashi Jade Bell.
Disclaimer: All of the photos here are taken by me. You cannot use them without obtaining my written permission first. These are my personal views and I do not any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. We were invited to pre-show drinks and the Darkness by T.S Publicity with no obligation to post about it.