So, this popped into my facebook feed last week: Stories In Our Steps by Tantrum Theatre company. I enjoyed last year's Diving Off The Edge Of The World so thought I'd book tix to see it with my parents. I expected to enjoy it, I didn't expect to be utterly blown away by it.
We started up on the hill overlooking Newcastle Beach where we were welcomed by our Time Travelling Guide. The show opened with the beautiful Awabakal dance and story welcoming us to their country and the night.
Then we walked inside James Fletcher Hospital Barracks, an historic site that I'm embarrassed to say I've never visited. It was the home of the Newcastle Industrial School for Girls (wayward girls!) way back when, and we saw their story told powerfully by brilliant young performers.
These performers kept in character magnificently, telling the story of young girls without a chance, without hope and without love.
Then we meandered down to St Phillip's Church, home of Tantrum Theatre, for Warriors Rest. I knew that this performance was choreographed by renowned choreographer Cadi McCarthy so I expected something special - but I didn't expect to see the best dance performance of my life.
The heartbreaking story of five brothers from Newcastle who enlisted in the war is told through words and dance. Oh, is it told through dance.
The choreography for this was brilliantly devised, and magnificently executed by every performer. Not only did they dance beautifully, they all held their character every single second of that performance. This historic church was lined with church pews, and we were mere centimetres from the dance action at times.
It was stunning, it was powerful, it was utterly beautiful.
This performance deserved a standing ovation, but the performers left the room never to return. Consider this my standing ovation - with additional 'Bravo!'
Interval time saw tables set up for tea at the United Services Club. Mismatched crockery, tiny jam sandwiches, lamingtons and Anzac biscuits were on offer.
I needed that moment to recover from the intensity that was the act before.
We then went next door to The Beach Hotel, which was cute as a box of buttons, with the youngest performers performing their hearts out, on the site of the former hotel run by a circus owner and staffed by his performers. What I wouldn't give to travel back in time for a bevvy there...
Then we wandered down to The Lock Up for The Star and the Slaughter where we relived the night of the infamous Star Hotel riot.
Now, my respect for these young performers was already pretty huge, but imagine walking in to the old cells to see 'drunken' youths slouched insolently against walls, or sprawled over tables. Amazing performance art.
Then the band played, and the dancing began, before the police came to call 'lights out' and the riot began. I've always thought that the Star Hotel riot was just a bunch of drunks going out of control, but this performance really gave historical context - in a spectacular fashion.
Then the band played a final encore of Star and the Slaughter by Heroes which needs an entirely new book of superlatives for me to do it justice.
The tour ended in Pacific Park with wee time travellers interviewing each other about the future. It was uplifting and a sweet way to end the show.
Our fabulous guide bid us goodnight, and we walked our way up the hill home.
Bravo Tantrum Theatre company - you do Newcastle proud.