FEAR AND DELIGHT: THE COMPLETE EXPERIENCEREVIEW, ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL 2015

Fear and Delight: The Complete Experience offers a unique, immersive experience that defies categorisation.

FearandDelightFrom the moment you are presented with your black or white eye mask, offered beef jerky with ant sauce served out of a cow skull, and individually led into the event, it’s a journey of surprises that keeps you guessing.

Be prepared to be split up from your date for the first section – but have no fear, the atmosphere is friendly and engaging, and chatting with other participants is part of the fun.

And as everyone’s experience is slightly different, finding your partner later at the dinner table to trade stories only adds to the enjoyment.

The pre-dinner section involves being led by silent hosts through a range of experiences primarily revolving around food and drink.

Some participants are selected at random to be taken away for individual experiences, be it a boat ride or an encounter with a dancing pig-man; and there are some clever nods to religious ritual.

From a mysterious beauty bathing in champagne, to a pantless preacher in a purpose built white chapel offering spoonfuls of communion and holy buns, each moment adds to the whole adventure.

It all works best if you approach the event with an open mind, giving yourself up to the experience.

The location for the dinner and the show to follow is an impressive open air stadium.

Guests of The Complete Experience sit around the large performance space and are served an array of weird and wonderful courses, complemented by some choice d’Arenberg wines.

The tastes are rich and varied, best suited to those with a slightly adventurous palette.

The process of serving the food and drink is a performance in itself, while friendly raconteur Maxwell Mason hosts the proceedings and banters freely with participants.

The trappings of the meal are efficiently cleared away and the show begins with the atmospheric electro-swing of London DJs, The Correspondents.

The show itself is an engaging mix of music, acrobatics and a little clowning; it’s sexy, death-defying and cheeky.

The innovative costuming sticks strictly to the black and white theme of the evening and, on some performers, is a work of art in itself.

There is no narrative and only limited characterisation, but with a belly full of food and wine, it’s a very pleasant experience to sit back and be seduced by the spectacle.

Being an outdoor event there are some limitations, particularly with some lyrics obscured by the drift of sound, but this is more than compensated for by the magic and charm afforded by the balmy February / March weather.

Having undergone The Complete Experience, it’s hard to judge “The Show” as a stand-alone event.

But if you can afford the $150 price tag for the whole experience, this is the ticket to get; it all adds up to good value when you consider the food, wine, theatrical spectacle and unique encounters that the event offers.

The night doesn’t end with the show, however, with all attendees invited to the Devil’s Lighthouse dance party.

On the way there you can call by the mist room to inhale the alcoholic vapours (it’s probably best to leave the car at home for this event); just one more novel sensory experience for the evening.

The bar is open, serving decadent cocktails and the usual alcoholic fare, as well as soft beverages; and the above mentioned chapel is reopened, spilling out onto the parklands, while a DJ plays your favourites.

Patrons are welcome to continue partying at the Lighthouse until the early hours, making this potentially a five hour event!

Director Scott Maidment and his team should be applauded for putting together such a bold and innovative show.

Different experiences of the night will no doubt appeal to different attendees, but that is all part of the adventure.

And while it’s all very difficult to label, this embodies what the Fringe should be all about: giving us something completely new and never playing it safe.

Running through to the end of Fringe, Fear and Delight deserves to be enjoyed by many.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor and Libby Parker