We didn’t know what to expect from ‘Bordello‘ – but the brief description of exploring a three-level brothel to uncover a story of intrigue piqued our interest. The first impression on walking into a smoky bare room, cordoned off with ‘do not cross’ police tape, and being given flutes of champagne and black masks to wear got us thinking of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.
The masked audience are ten invited to wander around the house, at our own pace, and witness a cast of film noir-type characters and their interconnected unfolding stories. At one point I was buying a round of Old Fashioneds while the barman was carrying on a conversation with two actors, furthering part of a plot we had overheard in another room. A lot of it is ad lib – the actors later told me they had their main plot points set (making it more than just improv), but no fixed script.
The décor really helps set the mood – the whole house is meticulously decorated and made us feel that we were transported to somewhere in the mid-20th century. Then again, I heard later that this really is someone’s house (with a bar and theatre downstairs) – so maybe it could be just a hipster Richmond thing. Either way, it works – the atmosphere and immersion the setup creates is fantastic.
It is up to you, the audience, to choose where you want to be and what to watch – and most times events are unfolding simultaneously in different rooms: conversations, arguments, a high-stakes game of two-up, a steamy liaison between one of the ladies and her client, accusations and revelations, and more. This led my +1 and me to split up at times and then catch up and whisper accounts of what the different characters were doing, piecing together the main story lines. By the end of the hour or so we agreed that it was all a good deal of fun – and unreservedly recommend ‘Bordello’ as a unique mash-up experience of theatre, exploration, and immersion.
Christian G. is an international man of mystery, book and cat lover; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of ‘Bordello’.