Review: Oberon 11 (Inscape Assembly & Anywhere Festival)

Put on your detective hat for intergalactic immersive theatre by Inscape Assembly

Oberon 11 is an intergalactic prison, verging on purgatory, which houses four prisoners: a 19th century French socialite, a potion-brewing wizard, an eye-patched captain obsessed with birds, and a young Australian man. Each century, Oberon 11’s sadistic warden would usually wipe one of their souls from existence as a final punishment for their crimes. But the warden has discovered that one of the prisoners is, in fact, innocent. The audience of Oberon 11, in the role of students from the universal detective academy completing their final assessment, is tasked with identifying the innocent party.

As Oberon 11 was a roaming immersive theatre performance, audiences were free to move around and interact with both the objects and the characters. There was impressive detail in the set design and costuming; each of the four prisoners occupied a distinctive space, filled with objects related to their past and interests. The cast of five were fully committed to their roles and the idiosyncrasies of their characters, and comfortably interacted with audience members and each other, answering questions as well as performing prepared monologues.

While the performance was mostly unstructured, there were moments that brought everyone together, such as a group therapy session. After an hour of investigation, the audience and prisoners were brought together again, and the audience cast their vote on who they believed to be innocent. The prisoners’ crimes were varied and were outlined in their prisoner profile, taped to the walls both inside the performance space and outside in the waiting area.

Audience numbers were limited for each performance, which kept the experience comfortable, interactive, and uncrowded. Oberon 11 also included escape room elements, such as a cupboard with a number combination lock, and some audience members focused primarily on these, hoping to find a vital clue.

Based on the premise of the work, I had expected a clear resolution or a sense of closure – to find out who the innocent party was, or perhaps to experience ‘a soul being wiped from existence’. However, as our audience did not successfully identify the innocent party, the characters expressed disappointment and we departed the performance space.

Oberon 11 was an interesting immersive experience, delivered by a cast committed to their characterisation in a detailed setting. My advice would be to share clues and theories with your fellow audience members, ask the characters plenty of questions, and prepare to dive right in!

Review of May 20 performance

Oberon 11 will be performed at The Paint Factory, Yeronga, from 11 – 21 May 2022

For ticketing and further information, visit the event page.

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