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Review: Love Lust Lost at The Austral

Review by Jessica Flynn

Love Lust Lost is a tongue-twisting immersive experience theatre by Broad Encounters. The production is an ambitious undertaking by Creative Director Kirsten Siddle and Stage Director Scott Maidment who have overtaken The Austral in Collingwood to turn it into a swashbuckling adventure ship with twists and turns throughout. You are encouraged to start at The Kraken’s Lair beforehand to pick up some Dutch courage before you are transported into an unfurling mystery plot surrounding Captain Anderson and his crew on the E.V. Nautilus and it is up to you how you piece together the rest…

If you want to follow along to the main plot and make the most of the characters in play, follow the actors as they dash around the set, taking you through every twist and turn (of the set and the story!) Otherwise, you are also encouraged to wander around the rooms where you will find some side quest fun. My friend and I had a particularly funny interaction with Stefano the chef played by Kristian Šantić and a little hint: if you go all the way up you’ll be treated to a bouncy surprise.

It’s okay to giggle and interact, in fact it is encouraged from the actors who will incorporate you into their schemes. I found it best to come with an open mind and employ the classic improv direction “yes and…” to lean into the conversations as much as possible! The whole cast was wonderful at keeping the audience comfortable and engaged to ensure everyone was having a good time.

The majority of the performance is laid out in a way that you can explore at your own pace with the cast coming together to give a wonderfully over-the-top grand finale for the whole audience. Cast members had clear strengths that were played to; like the Sea Creature (Callum Mooney) and Sandy’s (Bri Emrich) dancing and acrobatic feats paired with Claude (Chloe Towan) and the Captain’s (Sandro Colarelli) vocal performances made for an exquisite performance.

The set deserves its own applause as I am still unsure how the set team designed and executed such an elaborate maze of rooms and decor. Extremely fine details made the experience immersive and realistic with notebooks open for you to peruse and maps and recipes with clues scattered across the rooms. I do recommend wearing comfortable shoes to make sure you can keep up across the set stretched across 1900 sqm that has a number of stairs and low hanging ceilings to be wary of. As a melancholic bonus, the set is built within The Austral which was founded in 1921, but unfortunately will be taken down after the show finishes so make sure to visit and bid farewell!

Love Lust Lost is an unconventional, all-senses, entertaining piece of theatre that leaves you giggling along with the cast that appear to be having as much fun as you! You’ll be talking with your friends for days about the plot and piecing together your theories of Sandy’s love life (bottom line: it’s messy and we’re here for it). All in all, the experience reminded me of a film that you can watch over and over because you pick up something new every time, so I am looking forward to the next time I go!

Image Supplied


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