The Lighthouse @ The Queens Theatre, Adelaide 21/2/2020

The Queen’s Theatre, the oldest purpose-built theatre on mainland Australia, provides an audacious dissonance in Patch Theatre’s offering for this years Adelaide Festival of Arts, The Lighthouse. This grand old lady, oozing theatrical antiquity comes to life in Geoff Cobham’s playfully fresh and state of the art theatrical installation in which the lighting design is the star of the show.

The Lighthouse has pretty much everything you might want to read into the metaphoric title. For me, this show is a lighthouse for what you can do with old rarely used, but atmospheric spaces when you give them a dose of spectacular technology.

Patch Theatre, who for years have been delighting very young theatre goers with their whimsical offerings, have taken a turn away from narrative and character driven theatre under Geoff Cobham’s direction, and are exploring work which is ostensibly design driven.

Given his background as the technical wizard behind some memorable Windmill, Slingsby and State Theatre Company shows, Cobham is now at the helm of Patch Theatre and revels in the artistic license he has been given for this Festival show.

The best way to approach The Lighthouse is to channel your inner 5 year old and gasp in awe and wonder as you enter room after room full of tactile and sensory treats. It is so easy to be mesmerized by this technological playground that is grounded in the magical world of children’s fantasies.

When you enter into The Lighthouse you are given the freedom to interact with light shadow walls, crawl inside and around various hanging objects, playfully chase laser beams, and create your own shapes. At other times you are given objects that illuminate or reflect light. Because this is a variation on promenade theatre, the audience is as much a part of the installation as are the actors, musicians and the technology.

The preview that I saw was hosted by Patch Director, Geoff Cobham and it was delightful to see him also gleefully chasing lights on the floor, as if for the first time, all the while encouraging the audience to do the same. It was one of those moments that you lose yourself in a blink of childlike innocence.

The rooms are all different – some relying on tactile senses while the most exquisite has live cello and voice featuring musician Clara Grant and original compositions by Jason Sweeny, combining with sublime lighting.

But the best advice I can give, is to let your inner child take over and not overthink this show. There will be plenty of other opportunities to do that at this Festival. When your inner five year old takes over, you will find yourself giggling then gasping in awe and wonder as your senses are taken on an hour of blissful enchantment.

The Lighhouse – an interactive light and sound wonderland is on from 25 February to the 7 March. This is a Festival of Arts Show for the whole family. And it is a rare treat not to be missed.

Festival Review By Bob Becker

For tickets and show information head to the Adelaide Festival website…

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