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Lightscape (Royal Botanic Gardens) – theatre review

The expression “many hands make light work” immediately springs to mind when describing the specially created “night trail” through the Royal Botanic Gardens. An enormous amount of work has clearly gone into preparing the spectacular light and sound show known as Lightscape in the finely manicured surrounds. I wandered the meandering path, which spans 1.8 kilometres, stopping regularly to “capture” all before me in photos and video. I wasn’t alone. There is much to see and to get excited about.

While many trees and bushes are illuminated in reds and greens and blues, it is the “hero” installations that undoubtedly have the greatest impact. First up is the striking Flower Lawn, featuring large, brightly coloured blooms that change colour (both the stems and the petals). With an ethereal feel, Liquid Sky employs laser technology to provide an Kaleidoscope of mist-like colour above our heads. The name says it all when you come to the Sea of Light. On both sides of the path, seemingly thousands of tea light candles change their hue and “sweep” back and forth, as well as creating irregular patterns to musical accompaniment.

Floraison has something in common with the Flower Lawn, but this time the stalks and bulbs (dozens and dozens of them) are above us, rather than at ground level … and they don’t change colour. One of the undoubted highlights of Lightscape is what I would describe as the heavenly walkway – a cavalcade of soft, cream lights arranged as an elongated cathedral. The Laser Garden is a show on its own. Accompanied by music, vibrant green laser lights “cavort” among the foliage, beside a narrow, twisted walkway. To top it off, the Neon Tree is a gigantic installation “draped” over a massive tree. Long, thick “straws” of light in red, blue, pink and green mesmerise. At regular intervals throughout the walk, you also come across pyramid-shaped light boxes, housing a variety of plant species.

All up, Lightscape is an engaging feast for the senses – a superbly orchestrated cornucopia of creativity, the first immersive show of its kind at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Judging by its success, I dare say it won’t be the last. Allow an hour and a half to see it all. Entry is via Observatory Gate in Birdwood Avenue, near the Shrine of Remembrance. Lightscape is open Wednesday through to Sunday from 5:15pm, with “sessions” booked every 15 minutes until 8:30pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and until 9pm on Friday and Saturday. The event closes on 7th August, 2022.

For bookings, go to https://www.melbournelightscape.com.au

Alex First