On the way to the theatre on a Sunday, the streets of Kings Cross are slightly stained with the night before’s rambunctious pursuits. The train station feels like a haunted bathroom, and in doorways are bottles in brown paper bags and hollowed out beggars loiter near the pizza shop.

At the Old Fitzroy pub, it feels like any Sunday afternoon – with the usual punters with pints and the half empty fridge and the weary kitchen staff scribbling down another request for chicken laksa. There’s the stale smell of beer, and cigarettes. And at 5pm the light is already fading… it’s a cosy, wintering day worthy of log fire and some casual theatre going.

As we line up and descend into the theatre, a beautiful woman, with her mouth gaffa taped shut, wearing a long white gown, embraces each and every one of us as we enter the space.

But its clear. This is not the Old Fitz as we know it. Hemmed by plastic, it’s like a dirty swimming pool -the seats are covered in plastic – there is something clinical and medical – yet dirty and sinister about the space. We sit three rows from the front – we are the first line of defense for the rest of the audience (its a small house this Sunday).

You won’t have seen anything like this at the Fitz.

I promise you.

The woman (Sarah Enright) and man (Simon Corfield) are involved in a cheeky game of push and pull – a seduction, a dance – a little rough, but not unkind. She blindfolds him, and leaves with a suitcase. Silence. Anticipation turns into suspicion: has he been abandoned? Where is she? Is she coming back? Why did she wind him up and then desert him? He calls again, and leaves an inquisitive voice mail message. He waits. He dials. Leaves another message – distraught. He waits. Dials. Another message – dark and desperate and frighted and angry – a black outpouring of ugly need left on a machine.

As the play progresses we are drawn into his transformation – he is shamed and emasculated… and so the dance continues. At time the fearless perpetrator of emotional and physical torture, he is rebuilt.

What I loved about this piece is that it utterly terrified me. The smiling circus/cabaret gave way to something much darker -emotional terrorism, sexual deviance, physical torture. For those who like their theatre calm and predictable, clean, wholesome and written with grand poetry – this is not the show for you. Instead, I found myself genuinely enthralled and very uncomfortable – as though my own safety was being genuinely threatened. Perhaps it was – there was a climb through the audience where one of my theatre going accomplices had her crotch on his face as she climbed through the audience. But more than that – there were moments where the fighting stopped and the banal or the everyday was let in. There was also, for me of a recognition in the characters – the profound hurt, the genuine desire to love/beloved/destroy and self-destruct.

This for me was not a show about sexual perversity, or extreme acts of subservience and bondage. This is about the level to which we terrorize those we desire -through withholding or forcing ourselves on them. You may find interesting Kevin Jackson’s review here or perhaps Jason Blake’s review here – there is more to this show than just a bit of gratuitous button pushing (of the live sound variety and the audience’s sensibilities) it’s a truly difficult experience as our imagination begins to drive us to the end of terror, then churns our stomachs and forces us to swallow epic, unexpected images of interpersonal, intimate destruction – of sex, of love.

The production is slick – and epic. Shannon Murphy has done a stunning job wrangling content and production – without losing the heart and humanity.

Where pain and horror brings the characters together through being locked in an intimacy only survival can offer – I must admit that after the show I too felt a degree of intimacy with those I had seen the show with, for we had emerged from the dungeon different to when we entered.