Love Lust Lost

Choose-your-own adventure immersive theatre experience, Love Lust Lost premiered this month at the soon to be knocked down Austral Theatre in Collingwood, and my plus one and I were there to check it out.

Love Lust Lost invites you to discover an underworld of mystery, sacrifice and sweet surrender in an interactive theatrical performance like no other. You are encouraged to move through the venue at your own pace, following the residents of the underworld or charting your own course. Left or right, up or down, let your curiosity and instinct be your guide.

Inspired partly by French novelist Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, as well as Joseph Conrad’s commentary on power and corruption, Heart of Darkness, Love Lust Lost is a wholly unique experience that requires you the audience to uncover the answers.

My plus one and I embarked upon the nautical themed night in a strange craft helmed by the mysterious and unpredictable Captain Anderson. We were going to descend deep below into a subterranean world where madness roils, dreams unfurl and aching secrets bloom through the darkness.

After cloaking ourselves in special ponchos and making our way through the creepy Captain’s curios displayed in glass boxes, we entered the compression chamber to decent into the deep. The vibrations and sound design of this space was already so immaculate we knew we were going to see something truly impressive.

Conceived and crafted by a team of over 80 creatives, this immersive sensory experience is performed in 40 intricately designed spaces across three floors, making it the most expansive immersive theatre show to ever play in Melbourne. This old theatre space will sadly be bulldozed to make way for a new building once the show concludes, so the team were truly allowed to let their creativity run wild – it feels like a maze of discovery.

In this theatrical world, the audience and cast move through the set together. Like being present within a film, you can simply watch the scenes play out, or be invited by one of the cast to interact and explore further.

This opens up a lot of possibilities: will you follow the captain, hunt down the sea creature or join some other character in their deep see quest? Our suggestion: find the password to the secret shot bar!

If you’re like us and don’t like the idea of audience participation, then you’re in luck as the characters are quite content going about their own business. You’re invited to get amongst it: to touch, smell, hear, see and feel the world as a participant, but it’s not mandatory if you’re a little introverted.

The intricate world that has been created within the three-level Austral Theatre tells a story that blends fantasy and adventure with the joys and tragedies of human experience. It’s a world full of music, dance, circus, magic, burlesque and secrets.

Expect aerial circus, live music, dance numbers, intimately personal theatre and a silly/epic stage fight and singalong song. There’s even a tattoo artist giving out real tattoos.

The space is massive. Expect sprawling immersive rooms, including a ship’s brigg bar, only discoverable after overhearing a password. Layered within The Austral is also 2kms of real plumbing pipe and 40-odd buckets to catch all the dripping water from this ‘leaking’ ship!

At one point a lady with a crab hand requested our help carrying buckets of water between some rooms and delighted us with a private song about an oyster overhearing high-society conversations once we’d completed the task.

Some of the delights we discovered included a cool room meat hanger with a dolphin hanging from the ceiling, an inflatable bouncing castle, beauty salon, kink and bondage room, a foam pit, secret shot bar and even a real tattooist who was tattooing anchors onto guests (sign your name up early to get one of these).

The creative team at Broad Encounters are well-known for pushing the boundaries of theatre with their impressive show A Midnight Visit wowing our Sydney colleagues back in 2018.

A Midnight Visit went on to play in Melbourne for an extraordinary 16 weeks in 2019, so fingers crossed you’ll get to experience their new work before it vanishes into the night.

All performances last around 75-90 minutes which went by very fast and we think you’d have to do a few repeat visits to truly grasp the story and all the goings on.

As the show was winding up we joined all the guests and cast in the main dining room to sing along with them one last time. The attention to detail of printing every book with the exact same words of the song (a single line) was an inspired moment.

If interactive theatre sounds daunting, then indulge in some Dutch courage before and after your journey at the themed bar offering choice libations and salty bites.

Love Lust Lost is a convention-shattering theatrical experience that will delight and enthral adventurous souls and curious minds. Do not miss this extraordinary adventure.

– The Plus Ones

Love Lust Lost runs until the 29th October 2023 at The Austral, Collingwood. Book tickets on their website.

Photo Credit: Supplied, photos by Jeff Busby.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of FoxPression.