Tuesday 24 September 2019

Ancient Shrines and Half Truths - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Presented by Binge Culture, Ancient Shrines and Half Truths is an outdoor audio experience that has participants listening to a narrator as they uncover the unheard and the forgotten history that surrounds them, in this instance, Werribee. Armed with an iPhone, headphones and an app, the tour is divided into four parts, with each part becoming more and more immersive and interactive until you reach its joyous conclusion.

From discovering the secret voices in post boxes, the animals that live by my feet and haggling for a coffee with a tree, every pit stop throughout draws me into a silly world that is treated with a sincerity and respect. By doing so, I start to see things that I would not have noticed before. At one point I am told that in order to blend in with the locals I should walk with a hand on my hip and the other swinging while I walk. No sooner do I adapt to this specific way of moving, that I witness a man coming towards me, walking just like me. We share a nod and smile and I wonder as he continues on his way if he was a local or a plant, but I guess I'll never know.

The surprises keep coming though, from finding a platypus in the bushes to playing a game of Scrabies with another resident. There are moments where the narration makes me feel as if I am from the future travelling back in time and other times where it feels very much in the present. This cleverly allows for a sense of discovery to be had and provides an opportunity to play and be comfortable in these surroundings.

It's during the last section of the tour where the directions I receive differ to everyone else as we head off to various adventures. My journey includes taking some drugs (just pez I'm later assured) with a local artist and being cast as an extra in an alien movie. The impeccable sound design that has been constructed brings an authenticity to these moments so that when I stamp my foot by a big gum tree I do believe that I am causing the Earth to tremble.

Ancient Shrines and Half Truths opens our eyes and mind to the stories around us and most importantly, to the stories that are out there yet to be realised. As I was preparing to begin my session, a woman who had taken part in the show earlier that day approached the staff to thank them again and tell them that she was still smiling about it. I’d second that. 48 hours later, I am still smiling, and looking...

Ancient Shrines and Half Truths was performed between 18 - 22 September as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

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