Review by Taylor Kendal
The school holidays are upon us, and as usual, Arts Centre Melbourne has some wonderful delights for the whole family. Branded as ‘part installation, part scientific quest, part rave’, The Lighthouse is an hour long immersive promenade performance that takes you deep into the hidden corners of the Arts Centre and brings children and adults alike face to face with the chance to explore one of the most fascinating and alluring wonders of nature; light.
I will admit, its rather eerie being in an almost silent Arts Centre, usually bubbling to the brim with life and music and art, even so early in the morning. But slowly and surely, life is coming back once more after these trying times, and this performance certainly does help encourage that.
Created by Patch Theatre, a South Australian Children’s theatre company that has been entertaining families and the young at heart since 1972, The Lighthouse made its debut at the 2020 Adelaide Festival, to both audience and critical acclaim, and even took home the 2020 Ruby Award for Best Work or Event within a Festival.
Groups are guided by the Lighthouse Keepers, those trusted to care for the light and to help others explore and experience the wonder of this natural phenomenon that we as a culture, might tend to take for granted. During this incredibly unique and illuminating performance (sorry – couldn’t resist), groups make their way through a series of interconnected rooms through the depths of the Arts Centre, (even onto the stage of the State Theatre itself) with each room having its own theme revolving around light, most of which have some form of interactive element to it. Guests have the chance to follow a Space man, use searchlights to create shadows and puppetry, and engage in ways to experience light, such as mirrors and special effects. I could certainly sped time explaining each room and what was experienced, but it is certainly better to be experienced yourself, words could hardly do it justice.
In many ways, it can be seen as quite simplistic and something rather beautiful to witness and enjoy, especially since it is very clear that a great amount of love and dedication went into the project. Perhaps it was the fact that I had yet to have my morning coffee before taking part, but if there was a deeper storyline to the piece, and I highly suggest searching for it if you do.
With the exception of a brief welcome and a child’s narration through various moments, there is no speaking, which adds an entirely new element to the performance; to immerse yourself and get lost in the story. There is no doubt that this performance is mesmerising. The brilliant use of soundscapes and the various uses of lights in different forms; from a dress seemingly made of stars, to spotlights on the floor urging us to run after them, it is captivating and gives a sense of wonder and astonishment, and if nothing else, will leave you with a sense if calm and a renewed appreciation for light in all its forms.
I highly recommend heading to Arts Centre Melbourne to catch this brilliant immersive piece, suitable for all ages. The Lighthouse is running July 5-10, and 16-17 at Arts Centre Melbourne.