Current Issue #488

Paint a Mental Picture with Stories in the Dark

Paint a Mental Picture with Stories in the Dark

Some of Adelaide’s most talented theatre practitioners will perform renowned stories about darkness in the dark for an intimate theatre show that will let audiences’ imaginations run wild.

To be directed by celebrated local actor Tim Overton (The Young King, The 39 Steps), Stories in the Dark was a recipient of an Adelaide Fringe Artist Grant. The show, which is billed as part radio play and part tales before bed, will see Nathan O’Keefe (Pinocchio), Rebecca Mayo (Deluge) and Elizabeth Hay (Red Cross Letters) perform work by Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde as well as some contemporary pieces, while cellist and composer Rachel Bruerville performs a live score.

“With darkness being the form and the subject of the show, we’re asking the audience to use their imagination rather than us painting pictures on stage,” Overton says. “We’re letting their minds do the work to explore what can be found in the darkness.”

Overton and Hay (who will work on Emil and the Detectives, Slingsby’s follow-up to the acclaimed The Young King) were discussing a project to work on together when they decided they wanted to perform theatre in the dark.

“One of the first things we hit on was how enjoyable it is to go back to a place of being in complete darkness or part darkness and having someone tell you a story like when you were a child,” he says. “For those who were lucky enough to experience that as a child they get to revisit that and for those who didn’t experience that, they will be able to experience it for the first time: that sense of calm and comfort when someone’s telling you a story and you’re hearing the different voices and painting the pictures in your head.”

Rachel Bruerville, Elizabeth Hay, Rebecca Mayo and Nathan O’Keefe work through the show

Overton wants the performance to be a safe space for the audience, so the lights will be on at the start of the show before dimming as the performance goes on.

“It’s a big consideration of ours not to freak people out, we want them to feel like it’s going to be gentle and comfortable the whole way through,” he says. “We pay homage to creepy ghost stories but in a fun way. We don’t want to frighten anyone or give them a jump scare.”


The audience will be surrounded by the performers, as the actors will be situated in all corners of the room to get that complete surround sound in the dark.

“It’s a brilliant challenge for the actors involved, as you need to replace the physical performance with a gymnastic vocal performance,” he says. “That is a difficult challenge but one that these actors are up for.”

Stories in the Dark
Holden Street Theatres
Saturday, February 18 to Sunday, March 5

Header image: Director Tim Overton discusses Stories in the Dark

Photography: Jonathan van der Knaap

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