Fringe presents Night Terrors

Four haunting tales brilliantly animated

By Joana Simmons

Aesthetically and rhetorically pleasing with a touch of unhinged brilliance is an apt way to describe Night Terrors. The 2018 Melbourne Fringe brings a plethora of all sorts of unexpected art including this show of literary terror which explores four ghost stories inside a church, all told by an incredible performer. There are so many elements that have gone into this production to make it a top-notch experience, not to mention the fact that it genuinely made me shiver and clutch my face in delight.

Bluestone Church Arts Space was the perfect setting for this night of spooky storytelling. The way the giant door creaked open to reveal the stained-glass window in the background had me ready to be entertained right from the start.

The star that is Caitlin Mathieson commanded the space for just over an hour, embodying different characters as she told four classic tales of terror. The first was The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe which describes the story of a woman driven mad by guilt after committing murder. Second was The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman which tells of a woman confined to her room. Next were The Keepsake by Briony Kidd and The Open Window by Saki, both exciting in content and structure and moved with dexterous detail from beginning to climax. The drama was further heightened by the soundtrack which smoothly weaved all the stories together.

Creator Stefan Taylor has done an incredible job to bring such a sophisticated piece from paper to stage. I loved how refined it was and that it did not try cheap tricks for laughs. Joining Taylor was director Simon J Green, whose contribution added to this highly polished production. The lighting gave great contrast between scenes and provided both moody and spooky qualities without ever being over the top.

Overall, I was in awe of Caitlin Mathieson’s ability to smoothly glide from scene to scene, from character to character with a great command of text. There were points where she absolutely embodied the people in the stories, moving around the church with her wonderfully expressive voice and face which drew the audience in. Ever so gracious and in a tweed two piece, Mathieson gave us a sense of refinement and class belonging to an older world.

If you are looking for a delightful night of spooky entertainment, do not look further than Night Terrors. Not only is Night Terrors a memorable production, it is a hoard of times better than any creepy Netflix series.

Night Terrors is being performed at Bluestone Church Arts Space until 30 September. Bluestone Church Arts Space is an accessible venue and there are Auslan interpreted performances and open captioning. See here for more information and tickets.

Photograph: David Edmonds