SUDS Presents: A Menagerie

Hayden Tonazzi and Phoebe Clark left the show confused as to whether they played their part right, but wanting more nevertheless

A Menagerie, an immersive theatre piece devised by Julian Hollis, Jeremy Blum, and Jack Savage, is an exciting step forward for both SUDS and their audience. This Summer Slot production is being staged to experiment with the immersive format for the 2017 SUDS Major Production.

In this production the audience has been invited to a soiree to celebrate their investment into Ostertech medical research. Shortly after a welcome by the founder of the company, van Oster, an alarm sounds, and we learn of a medical experiment that has been unleashed in the manor which poses a threat for all inside.

From the moment we stepped into the space, it was obvious that the standout success of this production was the set, lighting, and sound design, by Julian Hollis, Michael Goodyear and Zaina Ahmed respectively. The Cellar was masterfully transformed into a maze of offices, bedrooms, laboratories and a bunker that comprised Songbird Manor, providing a visually engaging platform to begin the evening.

However, the success of this form of theatre relies heavily upon the cast’s commitment to character in order to ensure the audience invests in the story playing out around them. Upon discussion of the differing experiences of each audience member after the show, it became clear that this commitment varied significantly between characters and their story lines.

Bruno Dubosarsky made it incredibly difficult not to follow his every move as a sleuth looking for his missing brother within the Manor. Utilising every single interaction to divulge information about his character demonstrates Dubosarsky’s skill in improvisation and commitment to character, leaving each audience member wanting to know more.

Elsewhere in the production, though, there were also many moments where audience members found themselves uncertain as to where they should go or what they should be doing, being told to just “go and explore the Manor” when individual plot points were questioned and lacked the depth to be continued. As the show’s run continues these plot points will undoubtedly develop to the level of depth needed to withstand these questions, however in this performance they left some audience members feeling that they were not invested in the story.

Fortunately, despite this confusion, you couldn’t help but want to go in again to explore a new story line, or trial a different pathway through the Manor. Overall, it is clear the amount of passion that has gone into this unique production, and with a bit more tweaking, it has the potential to be a highly successful platform for the 2017 SUDS Major.

N.B. The show operates with a rotating cast which is listed below. The * denotes the cast that these reviewers saw:

  • Van Oster: Jestika Chand* and Jeromaia Detto
  • Harbridge: Christie New* and John Robles
  • Gallagher: Bruno Dubosarsky* and Chloe Higson
  • Dr Klimmich: Tim Doran* and Tim McNaught
  • Bouchard: Riordan Berry* and Daniella Pilla