Veni, Vidi, Vici

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When it comes to an immersive theatre experience, it’s a fine line between a terrified audience being subjected to Freudian improv, and the lusty shenanigans of Witches In Britches being passively endured over a chicken kiev. So when team Ruby Slipper were invited to attend Underground Cinema production of ‘Rome’, we were excited to attend an event which was part movie-themed dress up party, part immersive theatre experience and part movie-showing.

It was Rome. It had centurions, camels, gourd vendors, beard-sellers, and one Mrs Cohen whose son (she protested) was not the messiah. He was just a very naughty boy. Yes… we were immersed in the Rome of Monty Python’s Life of Brian!

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Always one to get in the spirit, Ellana from Ruby Slipper in her Roman garb (picked up on a Grecian adventure, no less). Underground Cinema events are fiercely guarded secrets, with attendees sent a text message to confirm the venue of the evening. We were in the forecourt of ACCA for our Rome adventure. You are given a theme for the event, but part of the fun is guessing the film you will be immersed in. I was considering Gladiator, Cleopatra or even Troy – but I am glad it was the Life of Brian. An effortlessly quotable film!

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This seer gave the game away to me immediately. Check out his gourd! And yes, there was fellow seer who wanted to follow the way of the sandal.

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Rome was replete with a village of beautifully-detailed vendors – including ‘goats hair’ bears which you could don if you were a woman wanting to attend a stoning. (Jehovah!)

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Like a theatre production you could walk amongst, UGC’s magic is in the attention to detail. I enjoyed the humorous interpretations of a modern-day Rome, fittingly set in Southbank where our own ‘nation building’ is at a fever pitch.

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Oh, how we laughed. And then pretended to be the lamp-seller in Agrabah from Disney’s Aladdin. (“Wait, wait! Come closer! A little too close. There. Salaam and good evening to you!”)

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Characters from the Life of Brian, brought to life by UCG’s motley crew. I was most impressed by the Cleesian lass managing the stoning. (“He said Jehovah!”)

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As night fell over our own Roman encampment, the light was golden against a lavender dusk. A smell of roasting meats, middle eastern doumbek drums, and the clink of hipster craft bear filled the evening. Where to next for our legion?

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Why, the Palace of Pontiuth Pilate! Here the roman togas and golden headwear of Melbourne’s Romans glittered like the treasures of a fallen empire.

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We modern Romans have tablets of our own.

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Thankyou to UGC for inviting Ruby Slipper to participate in a special evening. After our Roman carousing at Pontius’ Palath, we headed along St Kilda Road to the BMW Edge Theatre to enjoy the Life of Brian in thoroughly modern comfort.

Other immersive worlds UCG have presented to Melbourne include a Nordic Winter to match ‘Let The Right One In’, a 1940’s hardboiled police station to match LA Noir and a quarantine zone for ’28 Days Later’. ‘Rome’ was an event with high spirits, great imagination in delivery and as much or little performer interaction as you please. We recommend visiting Underground Cinema to find our more about their next production.

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