A very cool and extremely well put together piece of immersive theatre! If you enjoy more of an experience than a sit and watch, then Rust is right up your alley.
The audience enters the front door to collect their tickets but it's not a theatre lobby it's the "Eildon Mansion" a genuine old school 1800'S situation. Now used as the French cultural centre. What better place to host the story of an upper class family trying to keep everything together in the middle of a war.
You quickly realise you are already in the action when the formidable Helene (Helen Hopkins) comes down the staircase and sinks you into the story. This is just the beginning of a posied and powerful performance by Hopkins who faithfully portrays a women losing her grip as both mother and wife.
After the arrival and meeting of each character the audience is then suddenly aware they can follow whomever they please and discover the story. Many immersive theatre experiences can cause confusion and moments of being absolutely lost for an audience. This production is an exception. The space is excellently used and stage managed, so you always know where you can and can not go. Seeing as there are several story lines running and intertwining this is quite a feat.
The surprise twists and an escalating story line make for a gripping ride in this war torn country France residence. Audience members often play the role of a fly on the wall except for a few moments when they are offered a one on one interaction. Plus a highlight of the piece when everyone is gathered as civilians escaping the threat of enemy bombers.
The actors coped well in what is literally a 360 degree stage with viewers buzzing around them. Special mention to the commander played by Gabriel Partington who charged through the space and story leaving both audience and fellow actors rippling in his wake.
As an audience member you will not get to experience every characters journey or everything that is on offer in one showing. You may wish to hop around around like an excited child and gather a little bit of everything or stick with certain players and see it though there eyes until its its climatic ending.
TBC Theatre have done well, using an inhouse writer Vaughn Rae and Sophie Joske to create a piece which works seamlessly with the space. The direction is strong too and makes Rust something quite fresh and well worth seeing. Twice.
TBC Theatre presents
Venue: Alliance Française | 51 Grey Street, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 21 Jan – 9 Feb 2020
Tickets: $40 – $35
Part of the 2020 Midsumma Festival