Hor­ror theatre screams into Auck­land

Western Leader - - IN BUSINESS - JAMES PASLEY

An in­ter­ac­tive theatre of dark­ness is cross­ing the ditch next month.

Ward of Shad­ows, an Aus­tralian hor­ror theatre, will be in Auck­land, Christchurch and Wellington in March suck­ing par­tic­i­pants into a haunted men­tal hospi­tal for an evening of ter­ror.

The theatre re­volves around a young pa­tient’s un­solved mur­der.

The au­di­ence spends the evening in­ves­ti­gat­ing two mains sus­pects: Tim - a para­noid hypochon­driac and Wil­liam - an ag­gres­sive psy­chotic.

The au­di­ence then be­comes a court and jury.

Writer and direc­tor Emma Humphreys said the show wasn’t for any­one with heart or anx­i­ety con­di­tions as the show prom­ises its fair share of frights.

But she said it’s not all knee jerks and scream­ing.

‘‘It’s not shock hor­ror, there’s an in­tri­cate story line for an au­di­ence who have a gen­uine in­ter­est in story and char­ac­ter.’’

Un­like some of the other shows the theatre group put on, Humphreys said the show was in­ter­ac­tive with the out­come rest­ing in the au­di­ence’s hands.

Humphreys has been work­ing in hor­ror theatre since 2013, and be­fore that she was in tra­di­tional theatre for 15 years.

She made the change af­ter putting on a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic theatre show in an Aus­tralian shop­ping cen­tre which was try­ing to boost its night­time trade.

It was that, she said, that acted as a launch­ing pad for dark

‘‘It's not shock hor­ror, there's an in­tri­cate story line for an au­di­ence who have a gen­uine in­ter­est. ’’

Emma Humphreys

theatre.

‘‘Since then we’ve had a hor­ror se­ries with nearly 20 shows cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from the postapoc­a­lypse to se­rial killers.’’

Ward of Shad­ows was well re­ceived in Vic­to­ria with a sold­out sea­son in 2016.

‘‘The night­mare hospi­tal vibe is a hor­ror tra­di­tion, it’s a hor­ror clas­sic.’’

New Zealand will be the theatre com­pany’s first in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion.

Humphrey’s said this was partly be­cause of how much they’ve en­joyed ki­wis in their Aus­tralian shows.

‘‘New Zealan­ders are our favourite au­di­ence mem­bers, they re­ally get into it and in­vest in the story.’’

The show, brought across by Hunted the In­ter­ac­tive Hor­ror Ex­pe­ri­ence, is on in Auck­land from March 9 to 12, Christchurch from March 16 to 19 and Wellington from March 23 to 26.

Lo­ca­tion of the shows are cur­rently a se­cret.

The au­di­ence is sucked into an old men­tal hospi­tal for an evening to in­ves­ti­gate an un­solved mur­der.

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