‘Deadhouse – Tales of Sydney Morgue’ tells some of Sydney’s darkest and most notorious stories, brought to life by immersive theatre.
The first show of season, ‘The Leonard Lawson Case – Portrait of an Artist as a Criminal’, tells the twisted, real-life story of Sydney psychopath Leonard ‘Lennie’ Lawson.
To some, he’s the talented artist and cult comic book creator behind ‘The Lone Avenger’. But to those who know the real story, he’s a convicted teen rapist and killer.
I’m used to passive theatre. The kind of theatre where you recline into your chair and become a fly on the wall to the action. But at Deadhouse, you’re part of the action.
Kyla Ward, who plays the narrator Miss Eldridge, guided us from room to room, from floor to floor, of the Discovery Centre in The Rocks. We sat or stood just a meter or two from the actors. In some scenes, we were invited to sit on the very benches the actors themselves sat, becoming extras within the story.
It wasn’t long before the story had its hooks into us and any self-consciousness about the immersive concept melted away. We followed Miss Eldridge, captivated, wondering what twist or turn would come next.
And boy, were there twists and turns.
The dark and disturbing tale of Lennie Lawson is one that is hard to believe. And it’s even harder to believe that we didn’t know it already. It happened in the 60s, just over the bridge in Manly, with Lawson dying in a Sydney jail in 2002.
Lennie was a ‘charming artist on the outside and an unbridled monster on the inside’. He was a true Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde who raped five girls, before going on to befriend and kill another. But the horror doesn’t stop here, and yet more mayhem and murder ensue.
The immersive nature of the production worked perfectly. The story is terrifying enough, but add in the fact that the actors are so close that you can reach out and touch their fear, and you have the makings of a truly bone chilling evening.
Deadhouse is a must if you’re a true crime buff or a theatre lover looking for something a little different.
Brooke Nolan is a lover of outdoor adventure, food, music, and storytelling. You’ll find her camping up a mountain one minute and chowing down a degustation the next, Follow her blog at Give in to Adventure or find her on Instagram or Facebook.
Deadhouse runs most Tuesdays – Saturdays from 24 April – 19 May. 6pm and 7.30pm (1 hour 15 minutes) at The Rocks Discovery Museum. Buy tickets now.
The venue is not accessible.