Taking its name from the 1968 Swedish psychological horror film directed by Ingmar Bergman, ‘Hour of the Wolf‘ builds on the success of ‘Because The Night’ (2021) to bring to life Malthouse Theatre’s latest large-scale immersive experience.
‘Hour of the Wolf’ introduces you to Hope Hill, a town with a dark legend that is yours to freely explore on the longest night of the year. That’s right, this is a ‘choose your own adventure’ style of theatre where you decide how you want to see the story play out.
Set between the hours of 3am and 4am, interweaving stories unravel the disturbing disappearances that have been occurring in the town of Hope Hill for decades.
Before you enter the world of ‘Hour of the Wolf’, you are given a wireless headset. As you walk freely around the sets, finding places to sit or stand and watch the actors, their performances are broadcast to your headset.
At the end of each scene, a narrator (over the headset) invites you to choose to follow one of the performers (and storylines) out of one setting and into another.
There is no correct order.
Don’t worry too much about missing something though, as each character’s journey repeats three times over the duration of the performance, inviting you to go back to the beginning and make different choices.
We began our night at a local bar, complete with karaoke machine (and a solitary singer performing Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’), disco lights and beer on tap, where three stories were setup.
Over the course of the night we then ventured into a lounge room set, hospital waiting room, crashed car in a parking lot, a bedroom, gym, pottery studio, 24/7 laundry and even a church (look out for the secret confessional to document something you’d like to loose tonight). The sets are truly impressive.
Hour of the Wolf doesn’t have any audience participation, which we loved. The performers never make physical contact with you or acknowledge your presence, and it’s your role as the audience to simply witness and discover in silence.
While we read that there were two additional storylines hidden behind puzzles in the sets that only activate once performers leave a room, we were unable to find any tokens or items needed to complete them and thus missed seeing a crucial character who only appears at a certain key moment. This could be due to our starting location being the disco room, which didn’t lead to any initial discoveries, or simply bad luck.
While Hour of the Wolf didn’t have the same grand scale and sense of discovery as their previous show ‘Because the Night‘, it was refreshing to feel like you could experience the full performance in one ‘sitting’ without needing to go back again and again to see everyone else’s journeys. While there are a few technical issues with the wireless headphones not fully receiving the audio depending on where you stand in a room, on the whole this was done quite well.
Following the different paths to witness the events that occur in Hope Hill from another perspective was a fascinating way to learn more about the characters and town.
It’s the lavish attention to detail with set-design and props that flesh out the narrative completely and really sell this experience. Don’t be afraid to linger in a room to read through some notes on a wall, a newspaper clipping or even notebooks. They all help tell the bigger story.
Impressively for a show that lets you choose your own journey, at no point will you ever feel lost or unsure about which path to follow.
Every character has their own truth in Hope Hill, and the best way of discovering the full picture is by indulge your curiosity and by venturing off the path to look closer at the many impressive props and sets. After all, it might take you one step closer to meeting the myth herself.
– The Plus Ones
Hour of the Wolf is playing now at the Malthouse. Book tickets here.
The venue is partially accessible.