At last year’s Fringe, I was lucky enough to attend both shows from the amazing Australian creator Bass G Fam of Bass Fam Creative. Matador and Oracle both blew me away and I fell in love with Bass’ visionary style, elaborate costumes, and high energy soundtracks. When I found out he was bringing his spooky supernatural creation, Mansion to Adelaide Fringe in 2023, I was so excited and knew that I had to see this immersive horror event for myself!
Situated in the Octagon tent just beyond the gates of Gluttony, the spectacle begins from the moment the venue doors open. The Mansion caretaker Mr Emsworth (played by the show’s creator Bass G Fam himself), a hunched over old sole with a walking stick, welcomes you to the tent, meandering about the crowd and knocking with his stick on the ground to hurry people up. Some ticket holders were lucky enough to be seated on a bench directly around the edge of the stage, for a very intimate and immersive show, a few getting some unexpected scares throughout and I kind of wish I had those seats!
The show follows the Walker family consisting of mother, Mel, son Levi, and Rachel who have moved to a 19th century mansion in suburban Australia. The family hopes to find some form of closure after the sudden passing of their father following a deadly car accident.
Unfortunately for the Walkers, the spiritual residents of the Mansion have other plans, as they must battle the spirits and their attempts to drag them to the dark side. Mel is drawn into the depths of grief, seeing visions of her husband throughout the new home, all while Levi is in a spiral of a forbidden lust for the heartbroken spirit of Elizabelle.
As I have come to expect from Bass’ productions, the costumes are on point. Given the context of the show, many costumes are designed to be dirty and tattered looking. However, the fitment and style are not at all lacking. They give a feeling of prestige but also a grittiness that translates so well on the stage and builds the characters’ backstory, wealthy Mansion residents that have spent eternity in the afterlife struggling to pass on. The Walker family’s costumes in comparison are paired back, simple and are blander, but have a good Australian blue collar feel to them which I really liked.
The horrific and grotesque masks of the evil spirits are also quite striking and extremely well crafted, transforming the performers flawlessly and with great effect. Also, a special mention of how professional and composed these performers were, wearing these thick masks and heavy outfits on a balmy 38°C day. Even though I was struggling at times with the heat, they didn’t show any sort of discomfort and I really must commend them for that!
Bass has assembled an incredibly talented, athletic, and beautiful cast of performers to tell his story. Skylar Delphinus was fantastic as Mel Walker, playing a recently widowed wife where her pain and grief was absolutely palpable. It had my heart aching for her.
Zoe Keltie was another standout who plays the beautiful Elizabelle. She graced the stage with such confidence in her performance. She crossed between the afterlife and real life with great skill and demeanour, creating a captivation show in her own right.
Contortionist, dancer, and aerialist Antonia Sassine was a brilliant triple threat! While her aerial performance dangling from the middle of the octagon ceiling was breathtaking, her contortion act scurrying around the stage, inverted on all fours, filled me with fear, sent shivers down my spine, and I loved every moment of it!
The soul Mansion, however, is in its music and lighting. The light design uses dark moody tones of blue and purple to further emphasize the gothic feel of Mansion. During the dance numbers, the lighting comes alive with reds, oranges, yellow hues, and strobes, which adds an upbeat energy. The lighting is also creatively used to direct your attention throughout the venue, as some aspects of the show take place within the audience and off-stage areas, smartly creating the full immersive experience.
Bass has also curated an amazing soundtrack that dips between slower more emotive songs to downright high energy bangers. At the beginning, we get an extremely eerie and haunting version of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ while Mel and her daughter Rachel share a tender moment. But then when they become possessed, the beat drops as they’re transported to the afterlife. I found this such a creative way to dip between the two worlds and entwine the story.
The soundtrack that Bass has put together for the show features a vast mix of genres that blend so well. He really has a great ear for picking music that fits together with the narrative he wants to tell, creating special remixes and masterfully weaving a story with them.
If you love your horror themes, an excellent show that artfully combines dance, circus and burlesque, then Mansion is right up your alley. Mansion will have you possessed, but not in a bad way! You’ll be drawn in by the music, hypnotized by the dance, and shocked by the horrors within!
Mansion is at The Octagon, Gluttony, Rymill Park at Adelaide Fringe 2023 from February 17th through to March 19th, every day except Mondays.
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Photography supplied by Bass Fam Creative.