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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Malthouse Theatre Show 'Because the Night' Will Let You Wander Around 30 Rooms As You Watch

Instead of just sitting and viewing this inventive take on 'Hamlet', you'll mosey through custom-built rooms as the performance happens around you.
By Sarah Ward
January 20, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
January 20, 2021
  shares

The actors change. The story gracing the stage, too. But every trip to the theatre usually unfolds in a familiar fashion. You sit in your seat, direct your eyes towards the performance and watch on. And you definitely don't normally walk around the space as the show happens around you.

When Because the Night makes its debut at Malthouse Theatre from Tuesday, March 23, however, the audience will be on its feet — because wandering around the set after the curtain is raised is all part of the production. For the immersive show, 30 new rooms are being built inside Malthouse's Southbank site. As the actors play out their parts in Because the Night's narrative, those in attendance can explore freely, with the production happening around them.

Whether you choose to stick with the main storylines and follow the cast, or you'd rather just mosey at your own leisure — that's completely up to you. For those keen to go looking, the set will feature hidden rooms, too. The inventive format was devised by Malthouse Theatre's artistic team in response to COVID-19, the reduced patron numbers required during the pandemic, and the need to keep both actors and audiences safe. Only six actors will perform each show, and the audience is capped at 60.

As for what you'll be watching — and wandering through — Because the Night takes its cues from Hamlet, and is set in a fictional wood logging town called Elsinore in the 80s. The king dies suddenly, an uprising from workers puts the crown in jeopardy, rumours swirl inside the palace and the ancient forest outside the village has its own secrets, all as the townsfolk prepare for their annual winter solstice carnival.

"We are creating an entire fictional world that an audience is empowered to walk around and explore. It invites you to follow your own curiosities — to open doors and follow the stories that entice you — to escape from the outside world and be immersed in an alternative reality," explains Malthouse Theatre Artistic Director and Co-CEO Matthew Lutton. "The Hamlet narrative of a murder covered up, regime change, and a son seeking revenge is one narrative unfolding. But we have invented entirely new stories for the other characters we have ripped from the Hamlet myth. We've created a country where everything is in flux; the ruling family is cracking, the timber workers are revolting and the forest is fighting back."

Two rotating casts will bring Because the Night to life, including Keegan Joyce (Cloudstreet) and Khisraw Jones-Shukoor as Hamlet, Jen Vuletic (My Dearworthy Darling) and Belinda McClory (Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.) as Gertrude, and Nicole Nabout (Good Muslim Boy) and Maria Theodorakis as queen Claudia — plus Tahlee Fereday (Blackie Blackie Brown) and Artemis Ioannides as Ophelia, Harvey Zielinski and Ras-Samuel Welda'abzgi (WEYA Ensemble) as Laertes, and Rodney Afif (Good Muslim Boy) and Syd Brisbane as Polonius.

And, as part of the show, all audience members will be required to wear a mask and cloak — which'll be provided to you upon entry, collected as you exit and managed in a COVID-19-safe way. The theatre will also be cleaned thoroughly between performances, and actors and audiences will maintain social distancing as the show happens.

Because the Night opens at Malthouse Theatre on Tuesday, March 23. For further details or to book tickets — from 9am on Wednesday, January 20 for Malthouse Muses and Mates, and from 9am on Wednesday, February 10 for the general public — head to the theatre's website.

Published on January 20, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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