When Night Comes – Theatre Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Broad Encounters are quickly becoming a favourite of mine within the immersive and interactive theatre space. I have not been able to fault any of their productions and their newest offering is no exception.

When Night Comes is an experience that mixes cocktails and theatre, wrapped up into a cult-like performance experience. Held at The Austral Theatre in Collingwood, this unique experience messes with your senses in the best way possible. For this review, I attended with a VIP Ticket on Wednesday the 26th of June.

Upon arrival, I checked in my VIP Ticket at the bar, was handed a cloak and a black and bronze lapel pin with a ‘mark of the eye’ in the centre. This pin grants the wearer first access to seating throughout the experience.

Once the doors opened and my group were allowed to enter, we were ushered into a small room where a lone masked figure stood behind a pedestal. We each grabbed a mask and gathered around. It honestly didn’t even trigger that this figure was an actual person when I first walked in. It wasn’t until they spoke that I realised it was one of the cast members.

They introduced the experience with what I could best describe as a safety briefing, warning us of the space ahead and what we are to expect as we move around the experience. The space is dimly lit, narrow corridors, stairs, ramps and objects hanging from the ceiling that may distract you as you move about, so take your time to move carefully and safely.

After being treated with a drop of elixir administered by the anonymous figure, a puzzle piece was gifted to one of our group members and we ventured into the next room where a large table awaits with a selection of porcelain tea-cups in the centre. We were invited by the Host (Elizabeth Dawson-Smith) to take a seat and gather around the room. They welcomed us to ‘The Society’ and exclaimed how they and their companions were thrilled we accepted the invitation. The tea was distributed and was a lovely, chilled gin cocktail, something I was not expecting. Our Host provided a somewhat prelude to the night’s events, and we were on our merry way into the darkness to find the next space.

Throughout When Night Comes there are various characters and spaces that we encountered, each with their own exploration of the senses. We had already experienced Taste with the ‘tea’, there is also touch, at the hands of an excited man-goat-like creature (Kristian Šantić) dancing around with a boom box blasting Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane in the Membrane’ on repeat. Guests were invited to ‘pick a hole’ form a series of boxes depicting images of various human orifices.

There is also Smell where we are invited to take a seat on the floor around a lone character (Jeremy Lloyd) on a couch. They recount a beautiful tale of love upon smelling the scent of a perfume. Sound was with a strange yet beautiful looking sea-creature (Meg Hickey) dressed in stunning white gown, bejewelled with shimmering shells. They performed an operatic number and Hickey’s vocals were incredible. They are also very playful, inviting selected guests to a pedestal to collect a gift, but then shooed them away when the music began to play again, exclaiming “Shh! There is a show!”. We were also gifted another cocktail to consume, a tasty, chilled citrus gin beverage.

The last of the solo spaces held a performance based on the sense of Sight. A lone blind-folded female figure (Gina Tay Limpus) was kneeled on an illuminated platform, dressed in a beautiful black and gold belly dance themed outfit and performed a fantastic slow dance number.

Towards the end of the experience, we were treated to an all in performance and a final cocktail served in a test-tube. Whilst this drink was my least favourite of the evening, the performance itself was an intriguing and a wonderful culmination of the senses that we had just experienced. Before we made our way to the exit, we found ourselves back at the first room with our host, however it was not as I remembered it. We had one final task before we left ‘The Society’.

Each of the cast of When Night Comes are fantastic in their respective roles. They each spoke with such passion and delivered the poetic scripts with such beauty that was captivating and seducing. Bravo to Elizabeth Dawson-Smith, Kristian Šantić, Jeremy Lloyd, Meg Hickey, and Gina Tay Limpus for making the experience that much better.

The biggest take away from this immersive experience was how it played with my senses. Right from the moment I put the mask around my eyes and the hood over my head, my field of view diminished. As I moved about the experience, it was clear this was by design. As I couldn’t really see the ‘tea’, the taste was quite a surprise, and when I made my way through each of the sensory themed performances, I felt a different emotion within each one.

I felt curiosity with Touch, love and memory with Smell, joy and laughter with Sound and captivation with Sight. And unlike other Broad Encounters shows at this location, When Night Comes only has one path to follow and has a very lineal narrative. The production team have created a very cohesive and deliberate experience, one that I enjoyed immensely.

When Night Comes is a tantalising journey of the senses with some delicious cocktails that even contains a puzzle for you to solve. Also, if you are not one to drink, there are non-alcoholic options available for you to enjoy. I went into this experience not knowing what to expect and left elated, curious and wanting to explore my senses more. Broad Encounters, you have done it again. Bravo!

When Night Comes is about one hour with several session each evening. It is definitely an adults only affair and has limited sessions through in Melbourne until August 3.

For more information and ticketing, visit:

Photography by Jeff Busby.

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