Hour of the Wolf Theatre Show Review
By Jake Freeman
Now on until 3 December, Hour of the Wolf invites audiences to Hope Hill, a town that is yours to freely explore on the longest night of the year. On this night, a mysterious wolf visits the town, leaving a trail of curious disappearances. This immersive theatre experience will include over a dozen fully realised locations and a stellar cast of 11 actors. Hour of the Wolf is co-created by Matthew Lutton, who also wrote Because the Night. It was Australia’s first large-scale immersive theatre production of its kind which had enormous success during its debut in 2021.
Hour of the Wolf’s style of immersive production allows audiences to walk through the sets while the actors perform around them. There are interweaving stories, a mishmash of reality and myth, past and present. Individual scenes play out and then characters go their separate ways; it’s up to the audience members to decide who they’ll follow into the next scene in a theatrical choose-your-own-adventure. The actors do not directly interact with audience members, and at the end of each scene, audiences can choose which actors to follow. There is no correct order, as each character’s journey will repeat three times over the duration of the performance. Audience members are provided with a headset to better enjoy and connect with the show.
Anna Cordingley deserves a special mention for the creating such highly detailed sets, ranging from a karaoke bar, a gym, and a country town chapel to a bloodstained laundromat complete with the sounds of washing machines churning away in the background. Even the pottery studio looked like a genuine one. Complimenting this was the clever use of sound effects and Hans Zimmer-esque soundtrack that added an extra layer of suspense.
All of the cast had great acting talent, in particular Lucy Ansell and Emily Milledge. Both gave such an emotional performance, one felt very much part of the show. Natasha Herbert was very convincing as the eerie Mrs Wolf and the narrator but was otherwise underused. The level of the actors’ concentration was impressive given the distraction and movement of the audience participation.
The story itself is hard to follow and at times confusing but allows the audience to revisit each scene to enable a better understanding. Fortunately, they can do so up to three times per session.
Although the use of headsets was an effective technique to make you feel part of the show, on opening night, it kept dropping out during the performance to the point where I ended up just watching without wearing it.
Having attended my first immersive theatre show at Love, Lust, Love I was keen to see more of this new type of theatre experience. Hour of the Wolf was entertaining enough to want to see it again and will appeal to those who enjoy these interactive experiences.
Hour of the Wolf is created by Matthew Lutton and Keziah Warner, written by Keziah Warner, and directed by Matthew Lutton. The cast includes Lucy Ansell, Jack Green, Natasha Herbert, Kevin Hofbauer, Keegan Joyce, Brooke Lee, Emily Milledge, Christina O’Neill, Eva Rees, Karl Richmond, and Katherine Tonkin. The show is now playing until and including Sunday 3 December 2023 at The Merlyn Theatre at The Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank. It is a 15-minute walk from Flinders Street Train Station.
The show’s runtime is 1 hour. The performance contains adult themes, drug reference, frequent coarse language and is suitable for mature audiences. Before you enter the Hour of the Wolf, you will be given a headset to be worn during the performance. The headsets will guide you through the performance as you walk freely around the sets. This production also contains some strobe lighting. Audience members are discouraged from using their phones and interacting with the actors during the show. The performance is fully accessible for wheelchair and mobility device users.
To purchase tickets to Hour of the Wolf, go to –https://www.malthousetheatre.com.au/tickets/malthouse-theatre/hour-of-the-wolf/