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Review: Logue Lake at Studio Underground

Review by Hannah Fredriksson

“It’s not about what you’re missing out on, but what you will discover.” These are among the last words heard through a freshly acquired headset before entering Studio Underground, radio in hand, ready to play voyeur to a tragic sequence of events that will play out at Logue Lake. The simple instruction is an invitation to relish in the fact that you simply cannot witness everything that is about to unfold, but what you do witness will be nothing short of remarkable.

At the centre of Studio Underground, in a space that is normally filled with seating, is the cabin where our story unfolds. The audience is invited to roam around the entire perimeter of the cabin at their leisure, or venture up into the galley to view the cabin from a God-like angle that is reminiscent of playing The Sims. Given the lack of a fixed viewpoint, the structure of the cabin is a fairly minimal skeleton that keeps lines of sight unobstructed – doors, window frames and some simple furniture gesture to the existence of solid walls while remaining entirely permeable from all angles. 

Now be warned, this is not a family-friendly show – it’s well and truly a horror thriller that takes the ‘cabin in the woods’ trope and takes it in a unique direction for the stage. The main tension is built around ideas of queer identity, generational trauma, and authenticity – the complex reasons you might deny your truth, and the reality of facing your truth head on (very literally).

The story follows a group of four friends sharing a weekend away in a family-owned cabin, until a stranger arrives and begins to rattle their relationships. What starts as a simple evening with friends unravels into a maddening climax.

With five different characters at play, each radio channel follows the evening from one person’s perspective, hearing what they hear and sometimes peering into their thoughts. The audience has free rein to flick between the channels as desired, but with five channels broadcasting simultaneously, there are inevitably pieces of the narrative that cannot be witnessed, and therein lies the beauty of this ambitious production.

Just like in real life, the events of the evening must continue to move forward simultaneously even when the characters are separated – and these sequences must occur in an equal amount of time in order for the cast to reconvene at the right moment. It’s an impressive feat for the actors, who are performing for almost the entire duration of the 90 minute run time. Writing, directing and rehearsing this show with all of its tech and so many concurrent branches that weave in and out must have felt nothing short of schizophrenic, and the result is truly gripping.

Music and sound effects do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of forming a rich sensory experience and building tension. There's something awfully ominous about the rustling of trees and the trickle of a nearby stream underscoring the outdoor scenes, and a soundtrack of synthy 80s hits creates a retro sci-fi vibe not unlike Stranger Things.

Lighting also plays a significant role in building tension throughout this production. With the audience's sense of hearing completely preoccupied, lighting acts as a visual cue to focus on certain parts of the sprawling set, sometimes even demanding attention for key story points. It's also used to indicate the presence of paranormal activity.

Having complete autonomy over how to experience the story was incredibly satisfying – as a lifelong fidgeter, I enjoyed that I was able to follow my every whim, and was hanging off every word from the single channel I could listen to at any moment. There was no sensation of getting uncomfortable in a chair after sitting for an extended period, and no portion of the performance felt slow-paced. If anything, I wished that I could soak in everything that was happening across the five channels at once, but alas, I’m only human.

Logue Lake leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and with so much of the production unobservable in one sitting, it leaves you wanting to go back for more to fill in the gaps. With so many moving pieces essential to its execution, it’s clearly the product of a well-oiled team. An ambitious and triumphant world premiere season for this local production by co-creators Geordie Crawley and Elise Wilson.

Image Supplied


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