New play uses smartphones to tell dystopian fairy tale
Playwright Lally Katz's latest play Hans and Gret is truly tailored to its audience - the script is different, depending on who you are.
Entering the theatre, there's a smartphone and headphones on each seat, and mysterious questions appear on the phone screen.
Age? Children? Dogs or Cats? How bad are rice crackers? An intriguing start to a show that is brilliantly crackers itself.
The audience's responses to these questions determine the narration they hear through bone-conduction headphones as a surreal re-telling of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale takes place onstage.
The tailored narrations mean parts of the audience laugh at jokes that only they can hear, while others even participate in the show according to private instructions.
The show was developed by Adelaide-based Windmill Theatre, and is the first production ever to use technology in this way, according to director Clare Watson.
"We haven't said no to any bonkers idea, we've tried to pursue all of them," she told AAP.
Hans and Gret live a strange and saccharine life inside a gated community, in a society obsessed with youth.
There are wolves outside the gates and teenagers going missing.
When Gret's school formal goes wrong, the family finds itself at the offices of a dangerously charismatic therapist and guru - and that's just the start of how very strange this show becomes.
The production premiered as part of the Adelaide Festival and wrapped its run at a sold-out Queen's Theatre on Sunday, but there are hopes it will be able to tour.
"It's been a huge success, I can absolutely see this having a life in other festival contexts around Australia and also an international life as well," Watson said.
"New Australian work of this scale is quite rare, and it's been made possible because Windmill is ambitious and incredibly supportive."
The origins of the Brothers Grimm fairytale are, of course, grim.
The story is born from reports of famines during the 1300s, when children were cast out of their homes and there were even reports of cannibalism.
For teenagers in the audience, the jump-scares in the show are a source of horror, Watson said, but for adults there are other disturbing elements too - buzzwords such as gratitude and safety are portrayed in a worrying new light.
"It's that stuff that's terrifying because it's these empty platitudes that we're starting to accept as wisdom," Watson said.
It's worth noting that award-winning theatre designer Jonathon Oxlade's set is surprising at every turn, a family home and candy house that gradually morphs into a house of horrors.
Clare Watson will become the full-time artistic director at Windmill in 2024, replacing long-time director Rosemary Myers, who will concentrate exclusively on film and television adaptations of Windmill's productions.
The way things are going, Hans and Gret could even be one of them.
AAP travelled with the assistance of the Adelaide Festival.