Stepping into the immersive experience of Because the Night is certainly an adventure as advertised. The Malthouse Theatre’s exploration into the world of immersive theatre is the first of its scale to be performed in Australia. Far be it for the Malthouse to present a traditional production to welcome back audiences in 2021, but rather the company has created a unique visual and tactile world for audiences to engage with.
It’s a difficult piece to produce and it’s not without its challenges. A loose adaptation of Hamlet, the audience enters Elsinore through one of three rooms, gowned in black robes and masked to remain anonymous. This was honestly my favourite part of Because the Night, the security of being unseen and the ceremony of wearing the provided items had a fun cult-like feel to it.
As I wandered the transformed theatre spaces of the Merlyn and Beckett trying to piece together the modern re-telling of the Shakespearean tragedy, I tried to find the joy in being hopelessly lost in the world of Elsinore.
Given very little direction by anyone, audiences are free to roam the 30 plus rooms of Elsinore, finding secret compartments, scrawls on walls and doors that lead to mysterious locations. You can choose to follow actors or walk the rooms at your own pace, peeking into drawers and choosing your own narrative.
Perhaps I was a little too lost whilst in Elsinore, as I rarely came across the actors, missing Polonius (Rodney Afif) and Gertrude (Jennifer Vuletic) almost entirely. Finding myself following Ophelia (Tahlee Fereday) and then later Claudia (Maria Theodorakis) which was a cute way of updating Claudius’ gender, I was finally gently guided into a room for the conclusion.
Because the Night is double cast, so you may get a different actor or different experience each time you visit Elsinore. You certainly will appreciate the magnificent effort The Malthouse has undertaken to produce the theatre piece.
It’s a new world in 2021, and the world of Elsinore, is exciting, confusing and at times frustrating. I would have liked to be able to engage with the story more thoroughly but perhaps that was simply my knack of taking wrong turns and missing the action.
If you’re looking for a show that’s completely different and unlike anything you’ve seen in Australia, head to Because the Night, the vibrant theatrics of costume and elaborate set design is worth it alone.
Malthouse Theatre presents
Because the Night
concept Matthew Lutton | text Kamarra Bell-Wykes, Ra Chapman, Matthew Lutton
Director Matthew Lutton
Venue: Malthouse Theatre | 113 Sturt St, Southbank VIC
Dates: 23 April – 27 June 2021
Tickets: $60 – $120