The mysterious and macabre works of Edgar Allan Poe are scary enough when they're just on a page, but what happens when they burst to life across two storeys and more than 30 rooms in an abandoned Newtown warehouse? That's what audiences will experience at A Midnight Visit, a new large-scale site-specific theatre work encouraging visitors to choose their own adventure across a 3,500 square metre building at 655 King Street. It used to be a furniture shop but will now be packed with characters and surreal environments inspired by Poe's life and writing.
The experience is meant to last somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes – depending on how your adventure goes – and there'll be entry times ranging from 1pm to 9.30pm, depending on the day, from Wednesday through Sunday. In the lead-up to your session, you'll receive emails from 'The Undertaker', giving hints as to what you might expect to encounter. They're not giving much away, but we're going to make a bold prediction that there will be a raven or two involved.
They're saying to expect "adult concepts, uneven floor surfaces, small spaces." And yes, there will be a pop-up bar called 'The Raven's Rest'.
Director and co-creator Danielle Harvey has been a significant creative force at the Sydney Opera House and Mardi Gras over the last decade. She said: "[A Midnight Visit] explores themes of madness, guilt, death, impermanence and memory – just the small things in life. Set inside one of Poe’s dreams, not that you need to know anything about the man, it’s a place where the characters from his life and his literature collide. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes sexy, sometimes wistful, and yes, sometimes a bit scary!"
Ever since Punchdrunk launched its game-changing and expansive theatrical maze, Sleep No More, theatremakers around the world have been trying to get a taste of that success. Punchdrunk's New York show has been attracting hordes of people since 2011, picking up rave reviews and awards along the way. A Midnight Visit counts Sleep No More as one of its influences, alongside the works of immersive company Meow Wolf, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick and even Netflix's Stranger Things.
There'll be sound design from video game makers Peret von Sturmer and Kpow, visuals by magazine and film designer Jess Jacob and costumes by theatre designer Melanie Liertz.
A Midnight Visit has previews running from September 19 (which will have significantly lower ticket prices) and opens officially on October 3, with a season running through December 9. Tickets will be available at amidnightvisit.com.