Review | ‘Whistleblower’ – a show with a new star every time

Whistleblower | Heath Ledger Theatre | Until 7th March | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

The Last Great Hunt, a mainstay of Perth’s improvisational and interactive theatre community, has swept into Perth Festival this year with the company’s new show Whistleblower, a Perth Festival-commissioned genre defying performance where the protagonist is a theatregoer plucked from the audience and thrust into a mystery where they are the focus of all of the attention. 

This is not the theatre troupe’s first Perth Festival show – their acclaimed 2019 show Lé Nør [the rain] was a cinematic experimental performance that was recorded and broadcast to screens that hung above the audience.

Whistleblower takes the DNA of Lé Nør [the rain] and recasts it into a grander spectacle by not only live streaming the events unfolding, but also by bringing an audience member into the titular role and introducing a supporting cast made up of other audience participants into surprisingly comedic supporting roles; leaving cast members to lead the entire performance. These cast members openly boast about the technological and mechanical innovations that allow the show to run as it does, and for good reason. The show’s combination of Truman Show-esque secret filming and improvisational live performance with an audience member is a technical feat of entertainment that lands very well in this year’s Perth Festival programming.

Set in a fictional town, the show explores a mystery that unwraps as the ‘player’ and audience alike stumble upon a series of clues and neo-noir moments which truly do make this show an unmissable experience. The plot is simple, but it is obvious that by taking inspiration from the Choose Your Own Adventure genre the production allows the narrative to be substantive and fleshed out. Leaving the rest up to chance is a risk, but one that pays off.

Opening night of this production featured a strong ensemble of audience members that helped make the show truly great. A particularly notable moment – an ensemble member who’s performance was marked by genuine terror in their eyes – brought the house down as the easily recognisable emotion of fear was more apparent than anything else on stage. A relatable emotion for sure, and one that helped spur a bombastic and engaged audience on.

The clues the show has taken from other forms of interactive experiences, such as Choose Your Own Adventure books and escape rooms, continues into the music which has been crafted in a modular way that is responsive to decisions and moments created by our beloved star of the show. The sound design deserves just as much acclaim as the rest of the show – the attention paid to detail is obvious.

Co-directed by Arielle Gray, Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd and with company performances by Gita Bezard, Chris Isaacs, Edyll Ismail, Jo Morris, Alicia Osyka, Isha Sharvani and Cameron Taylor, the show is an incredibly strong performance by The Last Great Hunt.

Every production of Whistleblower is guaranteed to be different, and will surely be shaped and moulded by the lucky (or unlucky) individual who gets thrown into the strange and intriguing world within Whistleblower. 

And, there are some truly iconic wigs.

Go see Whistleblower at the Heath Ledger Theatre until March 7th. 

Davis Burke, image: Daniel James Grant

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