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Visiting Hours

Glen Falkenstein

Interactive theatre can be a special treat, and so much more so when it’s done well.
Visiting Hours

Image: Arisa Yura in Visiting Hours by John Harrison, Constantine Costi & Michael Costi. Supplied.

The Bakehouse Theatre Company’s Visiting Hours leaves the fourth wall far behind. (If it had ever existed within the bounds of the Kings Cross Hotel’s here repurposed floors and shade-ridden back-rooms.)

A downward spiral into what one hopes wouldn’t pass as a psychiatric facility today, Visiting Hours is something between The Silence of the Lambs’ famed trudge to Lecter’s cell and the myriad of gothic, unsettling evocations explored in the likes of A Cure for Wellness.   

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The show wrests the familiar staples of the genre (and then some) in a manner better befitting its roots than even the aforementioned Hollywood blockbuster. Throwing oneself into the act, and playing along when required, is a real delight. For those who would not prefer to sit and passively engage with a traditional staging – being escorted through the halls is even more thrilling and every friend and companion will have had a slightly different experience. Not going so far as to permit participants to greatly affect proceedings, the engrossing degree of participation is still a welcome novelty.

Beginning and later accommodating more forgiving settings with some notable attention to set-dressing and foreboding bric-a-brac, an imminent musical interlude, all the better for the intimate locale, is but one highlight of the production. Drawn quickly through various nooks within an ample stage, a lack of spatial awareness for those not paying careful attention, together with the hazy ambience, promote a keen sense of disorientation.

Most memorable for when all concerned are deployed within different sections of a larger stage, the uncommonly frenetic segment is a great deal of fun. Progressing to a more claustrophobic theatre where the performers are best able to shine as more relatable figures, this section is most endearing for the few able to participate in the entirety of the eccentric events that ensue. Of particular note at this stage is the excellent use of lighting, conveying an adroit sense of eeriness that would make Mary Shelley proud.

This a more natural penultimate conclusion to events than anything else that transpires, a later, aesthetically intriguing portion littered with exposition is (but for the visually striking elements) largely out of place in an otherwise heavily involving production. An enjoyable escapade and more so for experiencing it intimately with a collection of patrons, Visiting Hours is much more than one or even five stories and that’s something to relish.

Rating: 4½ stars out of 5

Visiting Hours

By: John Harrison, Constantine Costi & Michael Costi 
Directed by: John Harrison & Michael Dean 
With: Arisa Yura, Cheyne Fynn, Derbail Kinsella, Elijah Williams, Emma White, Heather Prowse, Jasper Garner Gore, Jim McCrudden, Joshua McElroy, Katherine Shearer, Keiren Brereton, Kianah Marlena, Laura Djanegara, Mansoor Noor, Monica Sayers, Nicole Wineberg, Rebecca Claire Moret, Richard Hilliar, Rose Costi, Sarah Evans, Sheila Kumar, Suz Mawer, Tara Clark, Tom McCracken, Yannick Lawry
Production Design: Anna Gardiner; Lighting Design:Benjmin Brockman; Sound Design: Tegan Nicholls; Production Manager: Andrew McMartin; Producer: Suzanne Millar
In partnership with KINGS CROSS HOTEL

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Glen produces film, theatre and television reviews and commentary, covering festivals, interviews and events. Glen lives in Sydney and enjoys making short films. Read more at falkenscreen.com

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