Immersive theatre is an odd beast, like with any art piece, it’s already completely subjective and each audience member’s experience will differ. Add in the fact that the concept of this type of production is to ensure everyone has the option to experience an alternate narrative, and you have the opportunity for anarchy.
The second immersive offering from the Malthouse, Hour of the Wolf is an intricate maze of organised chaos. Audience members choose their own adventure through the labyrinth of rooms constructed in what was the Merlyn theatre.
Set in the fictional Hope Hill, there’s a David Lynch quality to the modern-gothic tale that delves into small town gossip, fear and rumour. Guided by headphones that invite you to follow different actors, stories or stay and explore on your own, the technology is location based as to not confuse or distract.
Each of the storyline’s merge and overlap in a cohesive way that gives you a full picture of the plot (at least from my perspective/adventure choice) and unlike the previous production Because the Night, (a take on Hamlet), Hour of the Wolf has had any kinks ironed out making it far easier to follow.
Hour of the Wolf is a pseudo-horror/thriller written by Keziah Warner (who also co-wrote Because the Night), which manages a tense atmosphere, but misses the mark of being truly terrifying. The set design is stunning, intricate and carefully curated to create a very lived in feeling, Anna Cordingley has crafted an entire world within the dozen or so rooms while Amelia Lever-Davidson casts an eerie light throughout with her lighting design.
While the story isn’t particularly riveting or ground-breaking, the actors fully commit to each part with gusto. Emily Milledge is wonderfully tense as Mia, while town matriarch Mary, (played by Katherine Tonkin) provides a haunting retelling of the myth of ‘the wolf’.
‘The wolf’ in question (played by Natasha Herbert) remained elusive to me but from audience interactions in the foyer, she was very much present. It’s impossible to see all aspects of the piece, which is one of immersive theatre’s selling points, driving audiences to come again and experience a new adventure each time.
Hour of the Wolf sits somewhere between 90s thriller/teenage sitcom and modern-day escape room. There are twists and turns (most of which you see coming), a love triangle, puzzles and an unknown supernatural force in your ears the whole time.
If you don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the ride, Hour of the Wolf is a fantastic immersive experience, beautifully designed and well worth an hour of your time.
Malthouse Theatre presents
Hour of the Wolf
by Keziah Warner
Director Matthew Lutton
Venue: Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse
Dates: 19 October – December 3, 2023