Know that feeling of being invited to a Victorian engagement party? In a gothic manor house? Sneaking outside, skulking around a cemetery garden while following Lady Adair’s maid, searching for a missing child that might not exist, or might be actually dead? You might too if you buy a ticket to the immersive theatre experience ‘Mr. Naismith’s Secret‘.
If you are not familiar with the concept of immersive theatre, it is totally awesome and you should go get your ticket right now. If you still need to know more: it is a type of play or performance where, rather than passively watch from an audience seat, you are put right in the middle of the set. You are free to walk around, follow the characters as stories develop in many places at once. Like a live-action Victorian Choose Your Own Adventure.
The experience is a very personal one, and the story you put together will likely be very different to anyone else attending. 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 places, different floors, inside or outside.
Take one scene where a few of the audience remained in the dining room. Hugh Adair, brother-in-law to be, asks Mr. Naismith’s advice on how to woo Mary, a lowly housemaid. Naismith berates him unexpectedly, telling him to know his place as a gentleman.
An argument ensues; I decide to step into another room. To my surprise, I find Mary eavesdropping. The poor girl is on the verge of breaking into tears. She holds a letter, a poem, which she reads aloud to me. No one else was there with us to share our moment of grief. It was a little part of a puzzle that I alone witnessed!
Half of the fun was catching up with my +1 and the remaining guests at the end of the performance, with a glass of wine, putting together the story. It helped that the charming and uniformly excellent actors to TBC Theatre joined us for a chat, answering any remaining questions.
‘Mr. Naismith’s Secret’ is an experience that I will remember for years to come.
Christian G. is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.
‘Mr. Naismith’s Secret‘ runs 24 October to 13 November at Gatehouse Lodge, in the Melbourne General Cemetery. Buy tickets now.
The venue is not entirely accessible (parts of the play take place upstairs in the house).