One of the delights of the theatre is the thrill of the unexpected upon walking in to take your seat. The same room visited many times before is transformed through the application of imagination, time and effort, and a modest to non-existent budget.
It instantly sets some level of expectation and intrigue as to what is about to happen in front of you. Sometimes it appears obvious, a classroom in Between the Sheets makes sense for a play about the relationship between a teacher and a parent (though the relationship itself was less immediately obvious), sitting on stacks of newspapers for Him suggested that the NZ Herald may feature prominently, or the clue is in the title of the play, see The Last Man on Earth (Is Trapped in a Supermarket).
Many other are far less literal. What does a sand covered floor, a desk and a door have to do with The Non-Surgeons Guide to the Appendectomy? What is an appendectomy anyway?!
Why all the junk strewn across the floor in The First 7500 Days of My Life and a keyboardist in dangerously short shorts. How do / will they relate to the plot?
Other make perfect sense with a little understanding of the play. This Is Our Youth felt like a zoological study of pampered youths in New York. How appropriate for them to be displayed in a cage, from which they hung and jumped around like over excited apes.
How could pink houses, with picket fences and luminously green grass be a Perfect Place? Clearly only for those in a drug laced marshmallow induced state of delirium.
How erie was it to enter Tiny Deaths upstairs to be confronted by ten figures looking like the offspring of a clown and a gnome, waiting patiently in a 270 degree arc around the room. Seat selection certainly became a little more challenging than usual…
Some the best are the simplest. Girl On A Corner required nothing more than the cast leaning appropriately (for prostitutes) against the back wall to instantly take you to grungy, downtown LA, while Affinity‘s cast were trapped in an entirely plausible if invisible room.