When Night Comes (the Austral) – immersive theatre review

Don a black cape and an exotic mask and be led on a journey of discovery through darkened hallways, up and down stairs and into a series of rooms. So is the immersive, small group experience that mixes the provocative and hedonistic with the celestial and cerebral.

Photos by Jeff Busby

This is theatre with a decided difference, in which you are guided through spaces and offered a series of tipples (alcoholic or non – the choice is yours) and treats. In other words, cocktails or mocktails are a part of the offering, as you are invited to join a collective known as The Society, which is shrouded in mystery.

It is a case of embracing your curiosity, letting go … and giving into your senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – for all are satiated. Never mind the theatrics; rest assured, you are in a safe place. In each room, you are met by one or more charismatic performers (five in total), some semi-naked, who regale you with stories or song or dance.


One room, redolent with atmospherics, including mood lamp lighting and a reclining couch, reminded me of the folk tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In this case, the host charmed us with fragrances. Another featured an opera singer in a flowing gown on a podium regaling us while we sipped on specially prepared beverages. A third was the domain of an alluring belly dancer with golden headdress and crystals.

I hope I have attracted your attention by now. None of this is conventional. It is not meant to be. Rather, it is a walk on the wild side. Don’t try to make sense of it. Just let it wash over you, as you embrace the offering – the bold and the bodacious. The crowd behind it – Broad Encounters – has a fine track record in immersive theatre.

A Midnight Visit combined dreams and whimsy with performance art, while Love Lust Lost was a subterranean adventure. To that, you can now add the alure of the 60-minute decadent showcase When Night Comes. With multiple sessions each evening Tuesdays to Saturdays, it is on at the Austral, 202 Johnston Street, Collingwood until 3rd August.

To find out more and to buy tickets, go to: https://www.whennightcomestheshow.com

Alex First

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