The question: “if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?” The answer: a secret told to a stranger in the dark. And there are more questions too, posed to each unnerved audience member, whose experience of this “multi-media live art installation” will be unique. With only three people admitted at a time, each has a solo experience of three episodes, more as a participant than an observer. Anu Productions, under Louise Lowe’s sure direction, is excavating the history of these streets, of the women who worked in the red light district known as Monto, which was closed down in 1925.
There’s no danger of nostalgia here, or some Joycean pageant: the realities of venereal disease, meths addiction and grim exploitation by madams and fancy-men is not flinched from as we move from the street to an intimate booth with peep holes, evoking a confessional as much as a brothel.
“You look nervous,” the security man says, and I have no idea whether he’s got a script. Those children pressing their faces to the window seem to know their cues or, at least, to know more than me. Past and present rush in; the sense of disorientation and danger lingers.