A Midnight Visit took all the coolest things in Sydney and combined them into one unforgettable experience. Immersive theatre. Popup abandoned warehouse bar. And last but not least, Edgar Allen Poe.
Touted as Sydney’s first large-scale immersive theatre experience, A Midnight Visit transforms an abandoned warehouse in Newtown (okay, St. Peters, but Newtown sounds better). It’s a night of Gothic literary fantasy come to life. Over two stories — a whopping 3,500 square metres — there are over 30 rooms and settings to explore. Actors perform and guide you on your journey through the mind, and madness, of Edgar Allen Poe.
The team says it best:
Be seduced by your imagination and explore a dreamworld of shadows, obsession, guilt, foreboding and impermanence. Is it a nightmare, a remembering or a premonition? Like life, no journey is the same.
From the second you walk through the doors into the waiting room, you’re immersed in a macabre world. Strange creatures fill the shelves; as you walk to the bar, you pass by a veiled human figure in a black lace veil.
The bar, aptly named The Raven’s Rest, is one of only two places able to be photographed in the space, the other being the macabre waiting room. (Created by Studio Neon, come early to enjoy a pre-experience bevvy or two.) Indeed, we were encouraged to check our belongings — so my +1 and I sacrificed our phones for the duration. What lives on is only in our memories…
It’s impossible to accurately describe an immersive theatre experience (although god knows The Plus Ones have tried over the years). See, the problem is that no two evenings are the same, even if you go with a friend. Each of you will interact with the characters, find aspects of the set that your friend didn’t see. A Midnight Affair is something that you can return to and have a different journey each time.
Producers and directors Danielle Harvey, Kirsten Siddle, and Simon Hayward have outdone themselves. Entering the space, not knowing what to expect, I was blown away. That’s saying something, since immersive theatre is kinda my jam. The attention to detail is second to none. In a medical ward, you can read patients’ records on clipboards — all names and ailments taken directly from Edgar Allen Poe’s life and characters. There are rooms full of buried treasure; a brick wall with a dessicated corpse; letters from stories inside the hold of a ship.
It does add another layer if you happen to be one of those people who owned a leather-bound copy of all of Poe’s stories in high school. (Just me?) Unlike my +1, Raf from Travel & Lifestyle, who was new to Poe, I caught a few references. Tales such as ‘Murders of the Rue Morgue’ and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ were referenced via decor and the room set-up. (Although lacking: a pendulum swinging above our heads, a la ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’…)
The references to Poe aren’t 100% literal. Rather, the production companies who created A Midnight Visit allowed Poe to be a jumping-off point for what is an exploration through fun and mystery, death and horror, all mixed together in one entirely-engaging evening. Going from room to room, finding secret passageways, closing your eyes as you walk through hanging pieces of cloth — it’s all a feast for the senses and your inner (spooky) child.
Allow yourself to be open. Interact with the characters (from Poe himself, to the aforementioned Black Cat), and you’ll never know where you might end up. You may find yourself being led into a secret room by The Raven, bedecked with a medieval Venetian mask; or find yourself having your fortune read from tea leaves by a bride. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure book brought to life.
Did I mention the best part? When you begin, you’re instructed to put a black mask over your mouth. All is done in silence, save when the characters speak. You’re but a silent actor inside Poe’s fevered imagination.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa adores immersive theatre more than anything. Follow her on her Instagram.
A Midnight Visit runs until 9 December 2018 in Newtown, Sydney. For more information, visit: www.amidnightvisit.com.
The venue is not accessible.