Fear & Delight – The Complete Experience will push you beyond your comfort zone, removing everything that is familiar or predictable (including the person who went with you to the show).
Wear comfortable shoes, as silent guides lead participants in two separate groups across the gardens (Rymill Park) to several checkpoints – each featuring food and alcohol – until you are reunited with friends or family at the main venue for a strange communion of the unknown.
Here, The Complete Experience participants are presented with a banquet featuring several repulsive courses, such as squid-ink cake with a shot of Rymill Park water – Heston Blumenthal-like meals, but without the great taste. Only the alcohol is safe and, thankfully, there’s plenty of it, including some creative cocktails. All food is high risk and comes without explanation – but it’s fun. Just keep your sense of humour nearby.
You find yourself bonding with strangers over the bizarre experience and there’s always something entertaining to watch, even if it’s the reactions of the person next to you.
The banquet is served around the edge of the stage, giving Complete Experience ticket holders the best view in the house. While they are eating, those who have arrived for Fear and Delight – The Show take their places in the raked seating.
The show element of the production features UK music duo The Correspondents, and a performance incorporating dance and physical theatre. But for exciting acrobatics, you’re better off seeing Limbo. The circus props are limited to an aerial pole, a plastic tube (also suspended above the stage), and a flexible beam carried by two muscled men and performed upon by an acrobat. The plastic tube is interesting only because it is an unusual sight – and leads to some chuckle-worthy naked-man-performing-in-a-condom jokes.
Fear and Delight is enjoyable – the production has drama and intrigue, the costumes are stunning, and most of humour between the acts hits the mark. And if you want to try something new, the sensory element of this package fits the brief. But for the price of the ticket ($150 for The Complete Experience and $58 for The Show), the audience should have been delighted by every performance element, and the show never risked all with the same enthusiasm or commitment as that with which the audience sampled the food.
Fear & Delight – The Show and Fear & Delight – Complete Experience are being performed in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 15.
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