A cool blend of contemporary + retro culture

Dali After Dark: Surrealist theatre that’s not exactly unreal…

Dali After Dark is an immersive theatrical trip into the surrealist heart of Dali Land, an exhibition curated by Buratti Fine Art. The exhibition itself is quite wonderful, featuring original sculptures and prints from the late Salvador Dali’s expansive collection of artworks, and was launched on the eve of Fringe World at Metro City in Northbridge, Perth a couple of weeks ago.

Since then, the exhibition has kind of become second-fiddle to a Fringe pop-up event dubbed Dali After Dark which features roaming live performance art by members of the Briefs Factory. Briefs, of course, has been a successfully-running show at Fringe World for years now, but somehow, when the crew cruise around night and after night, up and down three levels of Metro City, the performance begins to pale in comparison to seeing them in action on stage all at once.

A member of ‘Briefs Factory’ who present ‘Dali After Dark’ at Metro City.

Metro City itself is not exactly the most attractive venue. On opening night of Dali Land, my fellow photographer and I almost tripped over rough carpet that had been ripped up but not put aside, wondering if this was a tasteless ‘installation’ as part of the exhibition or just plain lazy hosting.

Despite some awesome original artworks by surrealist Salvador Dali, there’s some shoddy decor evident at the venue.

We also figured that for punters paying $90-something for a ticket for opening night (standard tickets are $40 for the normal season experience), they would be greeted more than with just one bottom-shelf glass of sparkling. Indeed, within seconds of me putting my glass of bubbles down to take a couple of snaps, some cheeky patron went and stole my drink. Then, upon waiting 20 minutes to buy fresh drinks at the bar, I found I was ripped off by a bartender who refused to give me a receipt upon request, and instead charged me for four drinks instead of the two I’d ordered and received.

But back to the matter at hand, the actual event that is Dali After Dark. Here, guests are led down a dark narrow entrance into a curious art world that allows them to roam freely across the three-tiered exhibition space. It’s part art gallery, part immersive theatre, and part normal nightclub experience – had it been hosted somewhere like in a club in London, New York, or Madrid.

Nonetheless, patrons are free to explore unique settings while being titillated by pseudo-debaucherous performance art. Progressing through the meandering underbelly, we’re met by eclectic characters who role-play a weird combination from the White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland and Salvador Dali himself.

After some absurdist theatrical quips, we’re faced with the task of observing mayhem unfolding in the form of random acts of silliness.

Colour and mood lighting contribute to the sensory experience, shifting from room to room, floor to floor, while obscure soundscapes fade in and out. Kudos must go to the sound director – this part of the experience we were way impressed with.

We must admit, we had high expectations of Briefs Factory, having recently enjoyed their fabulous Club Briefs however we were somewhat underwhelmed at the entirety of the production: the lack of “mayhem” and performances in such a vast space to fill with missed opportunities for more immersive mis-en-scene. What was presented was perplexing and at times even beautiful but, as we’ve said, it’s run-of-the-mill activity on the international club scene…

Voyeurism is appealing to a degree, but so is candid interaction, if only there was more interplay with the cast and more ‘puzzles’ to solve as suggested in the introduction.

At least the finale on the big stage featuring the entire ensemble was a spectacle of absurdist circus theatre, so be sure not to miss that.

If hard-pressed to choose an immersive show at Fringe, you might want to consider something altogether more professional and enticing, such as A Midnight Visit at The Girls School. (Our review of A Midnight Visit will be posted soon).

Ending the Dali After Dark experience by landing at rooftop bar dubbed ‘The Surrealist Salon’ was a nice way to debrief with a drink, flanked by stunning views of Perth at night. The venue is hosted by a guest DJ with alternating live bands and special guests each night. Indeed, hanging out in this makeshift salon is where you’ll really feel the positive energy, with fellow art enthusiasts sharing their perspectives of what was just seen.

The beauty of this ‘choose your own adventure’ theatrical immersion is that you can exit the show at any time or stay the full two hours. Since we had so much else to see on this night of Fringe-hopping, like the rushed rabbit in Alice’s Wonderland, we uttered ‘we’re late, we’re late’ and scuttled off to the next big gig. ★★★

Antonino Tati & Annette McCubbin

 

Photography by Ben Roccamante & Antonino Tati, except insert photograph of Briefs Factory performer by Damien Frost.

Dali After Dark is on every night during Fringe at Metro City, Roe Street, Northbridge.

 

 

Hanging out in this makeshift salon is where you’ll really feel the positive energy, with fellow art enthusiasts sharing their perspectives of what was just seen.

 

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