In the gorgeously gothic High Tide Room of the Bondi Pavilion, master games master Nicholas Giles Phillps esq. leads an immersive experience for an intimate audience. Dressed gorgeously in a nineteenth century looking glam coat and cravat; his flowing grey hair and mischievous eyes we feel confident. This is a game that everyone can play and the afternoon I attended the audience were around 50/50 children and adults were mutually delighted by the adventure and outcomes. Ice immediately broken in we dive!
It is deceptively simple. A “Peter and the Wolf” tune plays over and over in the background. As we sit in the circle, Nicholas tells us here we are – a gloomy, fog filled village called Milers Hollow. He explains the rules. Everyone plays a part, chosen randomly to be an innocent villager, a witch, a seer, cupid, and a pair of lovers. And of course, the murderous werewolves, who pick off the players one by one at night.
We close our eyes as night falls. Nicholas guides us through the eventful night with a mellow and measured tone. When eyes open again it’s the next morning to a dead body. We must gather clues and uncover who amongst us is a werewolf while avoiding being wrongfully accused yourself. Anyone we accuse risks meeting their end at the town gallows and each vote we cast could send an innocent to their deaths. Only the werewolves who each other is and, as the surviving villagers try to guess, our numbers dwindle if we pick the wrong player to die. As a werewolf you must avoid suspicion by casting doubt on others but beware, each move you make is being sharply scrutinised by the village and the wrong decision could lead to your downfall.
Should you meet your end before the game concludes there is still plenty of fun to be had. With death comes knowledge, and as the identities of the wolves are revealed to the newly deceased. Nicholas kindly offers a consolation prize of a glass of champagne for those (adults) who die early in the game or a lolly pop (for the kids). The entire event is thoroughly entertaining and offers a unique experience of what audience engagement can be and it’s made more exceptional but the small audience. Having adults accuse children and of murder and vice versa does lend a rather off beat vibe to the entire affair. I bet some people had some explaining to do on the way home! But maybe that’s what it’s all about – how do we reveal our true natures when we are threatened even with a make-believe death?
No two shows would ever be alike, and it would be fun to see it at different times of the day with very different audiences. Do not miss this unique and flavoursome hour as part of Bondi Festival!