“Signals” Lets Us Play The SCP Way — The EOI Review

Title for Signals Immersive Show

It is my first day here as an administrator. I thought it would be easy, a simple job where I help coordinate the security and containment of a research lab. But no one told me there would be internal politics. Or missing doctors. Or a man with the head of a fish. No one told me what the signals of this job actually mean.

What have I gotten myself into?

Signals is the newest creation from the Los Angeles-based immersive company Last Call Theatre that centers on the idea of “SCP.” SCP stands for “Secure, Contain and Protect” and relates to a fictional secret society called The Foundation and its goals of securing and containing intruders from alternate dimensions and protecting Earth and humanity. SCP has been an internet-based collaborative sci-fi horror project since 2007, a project that is open to anyone who wishes to add to its existence. Last Call’s choice to bring the idea of this project into an immersive experience is a great one as the concept of containing alien beings has great potential.

It is The Foundation, in fact, that starts the audience’s experience with the show. Once a guest buys a ticket, they are contacted by The Foundation over email and given a series of questions that separate them into various job groups–Security, Scientific, Admin and a final group whose name I won’t divulge here because there’s a lovely joke hidden within it. These job groups determine where audience members begin their journey and, to some extent, what sort of adventures they might have within the show.

The live experience is framed as the audience being interjected into facility 00013 at the beginning of a time-loop that will last two hours (the length of the show.) Guests are to spend their first day on the job trying to understand what happened there and why the time loop exists. Again, this is a good idea to way to set audiences up to dig into the various characters and plots within the experience.

In many ways, the show succeeds in what is is trying to do. There are multiple human members of the lab and multiple contained entities from elsewhere that audiences can interact with throughout. Each of the characters (human and otherwise) have their own agendas, goals and relationships with other characters that audiences can ferret out and either exploit or hide, depending on the audience’s choice. Characters can and do alter their attitudes and choices depending on the actions and conversations audiences give them.

Best of all, the show is humorous, a little creepy and quite fun if you jump into it with both feet. The cast, whether alien or human, maintained their characters very well. The contained Baba Yaga (played with seductive malice by Charnie Rose Dondrea) and the deeply creepy Plague Doctor (Jason Pollak under an appropriate mask) were standouts for the contained outsiders, while the entire Admin team of characters (Mikey Takla, Evan Wank, Riley Cole and Haven Schneider) were wonderful in whatever they did, be it divisive, secretive or simply naive. The strongest aspect of the show, by far, was the interactions I had with characters again and again throughout.

But there are aspects to the show that were less successful for me. Last Call Theatre did a show a few years ago called Ascend that used the same general set-up for audiences of giving them a starting group frame-work and then letting them run free within a space filled with characters. Both that show and Signals promised that audience choices could significantly alter the end of the plot. Ascend fulfilled that promise with the entire pantheon of gods altering each show thanks to its audience’s choice. In Signal, the potential for a different ending felt less possible because of the time loop bookending the narrative. No matter what choices audiences make, the show must end with a time loop and that, unfortunately, made my choices (and those of the audience around me) seem far less important or relevant. While I understand the idea of using a time-loop to narratively lock the show to its time length, it also led to a show whose ending felt weak.

The other aspect of Signals that interfered with my enjoyment of the show came from the various quests that audience members were given. First, there seemed to be an imbalance between the number of guests and the number of quests. I saw multiple people repeat quests that had been given to other people/groups before, which again diminished the narrative impact of each quest. For instance, at one point I was given a memo and told to take it to the security head and make sure that he saw it because this memo was supposedly new information. When I reached the security officer, however, I spotted the exact same memo on his desk already. Obviously the information I had could not be new if he already had it–and that largely derailed my interest in pursuing that particular plot. If a show is going to depend almost completely on audience members following quests given by characters, the show needs to make sure that audience members believe their quests are unique and important. This show did not strike that balance correctly during the performance I attended.

Signals is overall a fun dive into the ideas of immersive theatre and audience agency. For the Hollywood Fringe Festival (which this show is part of,) offering a lighter immersive experience that lets audience members play in an immersive space for a few hours is never a bad choice. Setting the story within the SCP universe is also a fun idea as it gives audience members a chance to peek at a thriving internet collaborative narrative in a unique, new way. There are pieces of the show that feel slightly unfocused or incomplete for me and I would love to see a finished, polished version of this show in the future. But the version that exists here was one that I enjoyed as I experienced it. So if it sounds like something you might enjoy, I suggest you go join The Foundation today. Who knows what you might meet once you do?

Signals has 8 more performances including tonight and through June 26. More information on the show can be found here. You can get your $30 tickets here.


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THOM PAIN Cracks Our Facade — The EOI Review

Josh Randall as the star of Thom Pain (based on nothing)

Inside this garage, the walls seem very close and the available space very small. But it’s not the stuff here that invades my space, nor is it the other people trapped here with me. It’s the man in front of me. His name is Thom Pain and he is angry.

 

The anger inherent in Josh Randall's performance

When Josh Randall announced he was performing an immersive production of Will Eno’s Pulitzer Prize finalist play, Thom Pain (based on nothing,) I was intrigued. Randall is, after all, the creator of the classic New York immersive-horror production Blackout. Now he was choosing to do a intimate, one-man production with himself as the star. I had to see the outcome for myself.

I am so glad I did so, for I have not been able to stop thinking about the production. Randall has created an experience with this production that made me uncomfortable, worried, disconnected and uncertain. And I loved every minute of it.

Thom Pain (based on nothing) offers audiences a man who is desperately obsessed with connection. He wants to bridge the gap between himself and someone else. Anyone else. And yet, his approach shows us he is either incapable or actively resisting the very connections he wishes to make.

Randall takes that play and eradicates the distance between the main character and the audience. We now find this angry, hopeless man in an equally angry garage-turned-studio apartment that’s barely big enough for him alone. Yet now we are also there, a dozen of us at once. It’s practically impossible for him to fail to connect when we are all right there, two feet from his rapid-fire questions.

The sadness inherent in Josh Randall's performance.

It’s a fascinating choice because it places the audience in a confused state. In the performance I saw, audience members were constantly uncertain whether they should (or even could) answer questions directed at them. Sometimes they tried. More often they started to answer and then stopped themselves. They kept trying to communicate and failing to do so.

That is the beauty of this production. Randall has taken a show about the desire and failure to gain meaning through communication and literally shoved it in our faces. He transfers the pain, confusion and uncertainty of the main character into our own heads as well. And the more uncomfortable we become, the harder it is to keep trying to listen and to understand the poor soul in front of us. Such a great, great choice.

Josh Randall’s Thom Pain (based on nothing) expertly places a mirror to the off-kilter times we are experiencing. He deftly slips on the skin of a broken, hopeless man in a performance that kept me equally riveted and squeamish. His portrayal of someone lost, angry and hopeless is like the wound in our society’s side, forever oozing blood. It remains one of the best times I have had feeling terrible.

Thom Pain (based on nothing) has one more weekend of shows, March 24-27. More information about the show can be found here.


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Eye On The Horizon: THOM PAIN (based on nothing) from Ghost Manor Productions

A strange, blurry face from Thom Pain

Here’s an upcoming show that we’re looking forward to checking out. From the Blackout creator Josh Randall comes the first production from his new Ghost Manor Productions immersive company. Thom Pain immersive show.

A 12-person audience. A one-man show. A Pulitzer Prize finalist play reimagined for an immersive audience. This is THOM PAIN (based on Nothing). Tickets are $25-35 depending on the night and can be bought at www.thompainla.com. More information can be found at that link or in the press release below.

blurry images suggesting the state of the main character's mind.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Josh Randall, Ghost Manor Productions
(646)391-6938, thompainla@gmail.com

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) RECEIVES IMMERSIVE SITE-SPECIFIC REVIVAL STAGED IN THE PERFORMER’S LOS ANGELES HOME
LIMITED ENGAGEMENT RUNS MARCH 10-27, 2022 IN SOUTH LA
Produced by the LA-based Ghost Manor Productions
All information and tickets at www.ThomPainLA.com
LOS ANGELES, CA
Marking its public debut, Ghost Manor Productions announces a groundbreaking reimagining of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama, Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno. This immersive limited-run is housed in a custom-built theater in the performer’s South Central Los Angeles home. With only twelve audience members per show, this intimate revival breathes new life into the script’s classic tale of loss, love, and finding peace in the midst of it all. Thom Pain runs select Thursday-Sundays between March 10th and 27th. All information can be found at the show’s website: www.ThomPainLA.com Thom Pain immersive show.Thom Pain immersive show.
THOM PAIN (based on nothing) by Will Eno is a one-man show whose title character passionately dissects his life’s lost moments and missed connections during a particularly restless night. Performed with earnest intimacy, this site-specific production of the 2005 Pulitzer finalist takes on devastating new relevance in the skewed reality of our pandemic world. Ghost Manor’s staging strips away all the usual trappings and distance of theater, literally bringing the audience face-to-face with Thom’s signature humor, rambling charm, and constant ache to connect.
The DAILY TELEGRAPH wrote “It’s hard to imagine more dazzling writing on any stage.” While Charles Isherwood of the NEW YORK TIMES commented “Astonishing in its impact…one of the treasured nights in the theater that can leave you both breathless with exhilaration and…in a puddle of tears.”
One of the most promising developments of live theater over the last decade is the meteoric rise of immersive and site-specific productions. With audiences exhausted by digital overload, the experience economy has boomed as we search for new ways to engage with stories. At the forefront of this evolution has been LA-based creator Josh Randall, whose critically acclaimed psychological horror series BLACKOUT premiered in 2009 for an unprecedented 10 year multi-city run. He has since crafted over 20 immersive shows for film studios, including experiences for The Purge (2013), Castle Rock (2018), and The Invisible Man (2019). Now, Ghost Manor’s THOM PAIN combines Will Eno’s award-winning text with Josh’s undismissable directorial vision, offering a new experience which is both emotionally powerful and frighteningly relevant.
Ghost Manor Productions (GMP) is a new production company whose goal is to create  experiences that transcend the traditional in service of the extraordinary. Founded by Los Angeles-based creative Josh Randall, GMP is a full service agency with over 20 years of experience in the live event field having created, directed, and produced multi-platform experiences for the New York Times, HULU, Universal, Blumhouse, Focus Features, the DJ Skrillex, the band Queens of the Stone Age, and Stephen King. Josh is best known as the creator of the boundary-pushing BLACKOUT Haunted House (2009-2019). He has received two Drama Desk nominations and is currently the Creative Producer for the world’s first micro-amusement park, TWO BIT CIRCUS.COVID Information – Audience and performer safety is our top priority. All audience members must be fully masked and vaccinated to attend the show. Vaccination records will be checked at the door and the mask policy enforced at all times during the performance. The performer has been double vaccinated with a booster and will be undergoing DAILY tests to ensure a negative result within 24 hours of every single performance. Please note: the performer will not be masked during the performance but will maintain standard social-distancing standards. In the event of a positive test result, all audience members will be notified approximately 24-hours in advance, fully refunded, and offered the opportunity to reschedule to a later date.

WHAT: Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno.
SUMMARY: Staged in the performer’s actual home, Ghost Manor’s reimagined ‘Thom Pain’ is a one-man show whose title character passionately dissects his life’s lost moments and missed connections during a particularly restless night.
WHEN: March 10-27, 2022 (with Previews running March 4-6), Select Thursday through Sundays with shows starting at 7:30p weeknights, and 6:30p or 8p on Sundays
WHERE: South Garage Theatre, Los Angeles, CA 90062 (South Central private residence to be revealed after ticket purchase)
HOW: Tickets available through show’s website: www.ThomPainLA.com Tickets range from $25-35 depending on date/time
PRESS: For reviews, interviews, questions, etc please contact Josh Randall at (646)391-6938 or thompainla@gmail.com
Press are invited starting with our Previews running March 4-6, 2022

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“Dragon Show” Spins Its Magic Around Us — The EOI Review

visual of the poster for the show Dragon Show

As I follow an unusual individual through the stars, I glance at those around me. We have been called here because we are not just what we believe we are. We are something more. Something stranger. As we reach our destination, I realize something even more bizarre awaits us. With eyes full of wonder, I enter the heart of the dragon show.

Traveling through the stars...

Dragon Show is a fairy tale immersive experience — literally. It is the tale of your journey to meet the last dragon and the fae creatures tasked with keeping it alive, safe and fed.  The newest live immersive experience from Spy Brunch, LLC (makers of shows like Safehouse ’77, The Pod and the online ARG Sherwood & Nottingham,Dragon Show offers its audience a chance to escape the current world’s ongoing pressures by taking a magical journey to a faraway realm.

Dragon Show was written and directed by Katelyn Schiller (who also performs in an awesome, fascinating way that I don’t wish to spoil in this review.) The experience gives its audience the gift of believing in magic for an hour or two. It crafts a story about loss, grief and hope, designed to inspire its audience as they return to their own world. Like all good fairy tales, the narrative moves between emotions with ease. It is both charming and sad. It is both lovely and dark. It is the tale of the last dragon and the realm where its last moments dwell.

Full Dragon Show Poster Image

And what a realm Dragon Show offers. It’s a place filled with artifacts both large and small, items and props beautifully realized by the production’s design team. Every set piece works elegantly together, with special notice given to Cam Sampson’s work on a strawberry (yes, literally one piece of fruit) and Shoshanna Ruth Green’s impeccable miniature garden. The design creates a cohesive sense of hand-crafted, loving detail throughout that made it a visual joy to explore.

Even more wonderful are the actors that inhabit this space. Often playing multiple parts, every actor in this show felt perfectly suited for their roles. The largest praise goes to the fairy characters we spend the most time with throughout the show, so much so that I want to call them out specifically. Reed Sights compellingly captures the transformation from innocence to understanding. Shoshanna Ruth Green’s elegance expertly covers her worry over the future. Steve Bradford amused me constantly with his character’s unshakeable belief in his education while Sam Chan’s attempts to keep the true purpose of the audience’s visit going as planned were nothing short of wonderful to watch. Mady Durbin’s sad, lost nobility came through perfectly, especially during the show’s climax. Finally, Nerea Durhart gives this show a performance that ranks as the best I have seen her create. She generates exactly the correct balance of shyness and excitement within her character’s personality. She responds without missing a beat to audience interaction, even when questioned directly about secrets within the narrative. She hints at a deep backstory with just a few words. It’s a wonderful performance in a wonderful cast.

The cast of Dragon Show
Shoshanna Ruth Green, Nerea Durhart, Sam Chan and Steve Bradford

Other elements of Dragon Show work equally well but I am intentionally not writing about the specifics of the elements here. This show works best when audience members are not too aware of what’s coming. Instead, I want to applaud Weston Gaylord’s dynamic additions and the artistry, performance and design of the show’s finale in a general sense. It is my hope that audiences come to this show and learn for themselves the specifics of the above elements.

Indeed, I hope everyone comes to see Dragon Show. As we reach what may finally be the edge of the pandemic, a COVID-safe, outdoor experience feels like a great idea in general Dragon Show takes that idea and combines whimsy, delight, dragons and fae into a bright and engrossing experience that I enjoyed immensely.

Dragon Show continues Fridays and Saturdays through February 19, two shows nightly at 7:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M. Each show runs approximately 75 minutes. The show has very specific COVID guidelines on their show page.

Tickets are $75/person and can be bought here.


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“A Krampus Tale” is Here Just In Time for the Holidays

A Krampus Tale Visual Image

If you’re already worn-out by the 2021 holiday season (like we are,) then here’s an experience that might be right up your alley. Check out the press release for The Krampus Tale below. It’s an experience that’s just opened and runs through the top of 2022. We’ll be there next weekend to try it out ourselves!

Hoof-Prints On History: A Krampus Tale

This season, an old friend comes to visit in a whole new way. Krampus is in town!
For the first time, you humans – naughty and nice – have a chance to win over the
TRUE authority on holiday justice. For the wise, debonair Krampus has a secret plan to show you he is not so bad – and has, in fact, been judged unjustly. He will orchestrate a GRAND UNSMEARING campaign, bringing takeaway treats and entertainment, including lashings and chain knotting demonstrations original song craft and puppetry arts.

You’ll be enthralled for over four hours nearly thirty minutes by the campaign that critics are calling “Twas the Night Before Christmas x 100” and “The gravitas, humor, and poetics of Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre all at once!” It’s sure to add a new tale to your family’s holiday tradition, warming your soul with the inspiration of the season as it’s truly meant to be!

With development assistance from a real human child, this is Krampus’s “best” attempt to tell his story, clearing his name once and for all. Have a Ho-Ho-Horrible holiday with us!

Dates: Generally, Thursdays-Sundays in December (Full list of dates: December 4-5,
December 9-12, December 16-19, December 23, 26, 30, January 1-2)

Times: Thursday-Friday 6pm – 10pm (every 30 minutes), Saturday- Sunday 2 pm – 10pm (every 30 minutes)

Location: 3015 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles 90039
Parking: Street

Price: $60 per time slot for up to 6 guests at a time (Just $10 per person!)
Ticket link: https://notkrampus.ticketspice.com/hoof-prints-on-history

Notes: Kid Friendly, Outdoor venue (rain or shine), Guests required to wear masks, Wheelchair accessible.

Who: Hoof-Prints on History is conceived by Stephanie Hyden, written and directed by David Ruzicka, and features Darren Herczeg and Stephanie Hyden. Eric Vosmeier and The Bezark Company serve as producers. Production design by Stephanie Hyden. Lighting Design by Ian Momii.


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It’s Alive: The Creation of The Creation — The EOI Review

The cast of It's Alive: The Frankenstein Immersive Experience

I am deep in the bowels of a mausoleum, my eyes locked behind a blindfold and my gloved hands shoved deep inside something squishy and very wet. (Is it intestines? The chest cavity?) I strain to figure out what the noises in front of me might mean. (Is that ripping skin? Is that a bunsen burner turning on?) All I know for certain is that I am lost in the memories of the true creator of all of this, Mary Shelley. And I fear there is much more horror yet to come for it’s alive.

Chanel Castaneda as Mary Shelley

It’s Alive advertises itself as a “Frankenstein intimate immersive experience.” That description is both accurate and a vast understatement for one of my favorite experiences this Halloween. It’s Alive is far more than a Frankenstein story. It is the story of how Frankenstein came to be. It is the story of why Mary Shelley felt compelled to write about a mad scientist and his poor creation. Best of all, it is a fantastic immersive experience with so many characters and storylines that multiple viewings still won’t catch everything.

It’s Alive begins at the moment Mary Shelley learns of her husband’s death from a boating accident. Because of plague fears at the time, Percy Shelley’s body is cremated. All Mary Shelley receives to bury is Percy’s heart which refused to burn. With that startling piece of emotional imagery in her hands, (more startling still because it’s an actual historical fact,) Mary begins to mourn.

But it’s far more than her husband she grieves for, and It’s Alive delves into the full weight of both Mary and Percy’s histories. Audiences break apart and weave together as they traverse the massive Mountain View Mausoleum, interacting with everyone involved in the creation of Frankenstein. Mary’s sisters whisk individual members off to have a private scene in the darkness. A pair of the audience digs up body parts by a grave outside. A handful spies on Dr. Polidori professing his love to a married woman. For two hours, the show weaves its audience in and out of moments of these peoples’ lives in a way that feels like a combination of ghost story and gothic ballet. By its completion, each audience member will understand exactly why Mary’s tears fall so deeply at yet another moment of grief.

It’s Alive Cast at the Mountain View Mausoleum

It’s Alive works on every level possible. The writing (from John Armstrong and Devon Armstrong) perfectly combines the style of Shelley and Byron’s poetry and Mary’s novel. And yet, it remains very accessible for modern audiences thanks to director Devon Armstrong’s very smart staging and choices for when to have characters directly interact with audiences. Moreover, a show like this requires exceptional choreographing of its audience so that each member gets a full experience with no wasted time. The first version of this show at the Heritage Center in Los Angeles did this well; this version has perfected that timing into an art form. I was brought through nearly every corner and floor of the mausoleum and never did I feel like I was waiting for anything or anyone.

Dr. Frankenstein (Robert Schaefer) summons you.

The cast of It’s Alive also does a stellar job throughout, with every actor working in top form to bring these historical figures to life. Chanel Castañeda effortlessly shifts between the true happiness of Mary in love to the heart-wrenching grief of her loss and captures both perfectly. Jahnavi Alyssa’s portrayal of Claire Clairemont displayed raw grief in such a visceral way it is spellbinding. The deeply sad story of Harriet Shelley (Percy’s first wife) gets an equally (and wonderfully) sad evisceration from Rachel Levy. Alec Gaylord as Percy and James Fowler as Byron capture the egocentrism of those poets and their male-centric “free love” attitudes so well it made me angry at them. Lulu Royce’s version of Fanny was the living embodiment of lost innocence and nearly impossible to watch. Even the one fictional character roaming this performance, Dr. Frankenstein himself, was horrifically presented by Robert Schaefer in a wonderfully dark, twisted persona that drags people off to do monstrous things.

Percy Shelley (Alec Gaylord)

It’s Alive is the perfect example of great immersive theater. It brings a well-crafted and well-executed show to a wonderful location. It imbues the production with a talented cast that knows how to draw their audience ever deeper into their tale. One can hope that shows like these might even become a holiday tradition, for you could do no better for a Halloween night than fall into this exploration of the truth behind the fiction of Frankenstein. For as many of the characters here say, without these people and the life they gave Mary Shelley, the creation would never have been born.

It’s Alive has four more shows this weekend, but only the Saturday at 9PM show has tickets remaining. Tickets are $60 and can be found here. Contact the organizers for any waiting list if you want to try another slot.


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Lovers Anonymous Proves to be Deeply Personal — The EOI Review

The Logo for the Amet Community

They are calling me again. I’ve found myself tasked with absolute control over two different women’s lives. I get to decide what happens to their entire future existence in one instant. It’s a weighty decision on my shoulders and right now, I only know one thing:

I don’t see any good answer.

Terence Abernathy, the strange founder of the Amet Community

As the pandemic rolls on, immersive creators continue to experiment with new ways to deliver stories. Candle House Collective created an entire program for such experiments with their FireStarter Initiative. This initiative allows new creators to offer narratives through the CHC site that can give audiences something new and exciting to enjoy.

Recently, the FireStarter Initiative brought audiences the show Lovers Anonymous. This show centers around a strange little place call “Amet”. There’s even a wonderfully retro introduction video created by Amet’s founder, Terence Abernathy. It explains Amet and that you are here because you are an American who has volunteered to help its society. But so many questions remain. Is Amet a city? A cult? A self-governing collective that somehow carved out part of Alaska?

The phrase that proves Love is a mental sickness in Amet.

Even stranger, check out the above image from that intro video. In Amet, “Love” is a sign of mental illness and that’s where you come into play. Since Americans do not recognize love as dangerous, we are better suited to decide the fate of two women who have fallen in love. To make that decision, the audience member will get to speak to both of them individually and together.

Lovers Anonymous echoes many of Candle House Collective’s previous audio-only immersive experiences. Candle House Collective specializes in over-the-phone immersive theatrical performances. They put audience members into slightly different realities with people who feel familiar and circumstances that feel terrifyingly unique. Lovers Anonymous thematically fits very well into that sort of show idea.

At the same time, the show also branches into its own territory in several ways. This experience uses multiple forms of technology beyond just audio. It includes audio, text, video calls and even PowerPoint presentations shared from various computers. Each type of technology matches the narrative moment where it appears perfectly. The emotional Lilli wants to see you as she chats while the cerebral Chantal prefers to organize her thoughts beforehand. I have seen literally dozens of various virtual remote shows in the last 16 months and I was still pleased and surprised by this show. Lovers Anonymous really understands how to use technology in a way most immersive shows fail to grasp.

The two women whose lives you are going to determine.

What caught me the most off-guard, however, was how upset this show made me emotionally–in all the right ways. Because of the distancing aspect of technology, most virtual shows have a hard time creating truly deep emotional investment in their audience. It takes just the right combination of story, performance and understanding of how people interact over technology to bridge that gap. Lovers Anonymous reaches right through its technological lines and ripped my heart from my chest.

Its two main women felt entirely real. They each had desires and fears, wants and worries, and I understood it all. It made the decision I ultimately had to make one that hurt almost as much as decisions I have made in my own life. Two entirely fictional characters asked me to choose their future and it broke my heart to do so. Lovers Anonymous is that good a show.

Everything about Lovers Anonymous compels for me. Its design is impeccable. Its use of technology works superbly. Teagen Earley and LaKecia Harris bring such real life to their main women couple of Lilli and Chantal that I honestly wished they were real so I could keep talking to them for years to come. Marvin Bell brought a different but equally real energy as Chantal’s father who had a real bone to pick with America for very good reasons. Sar Cohen and William Youmans brought the strangeness of Amet to life so quickly and efficiently that I also wished Amet was real because I would definitely want to visit and understand what the heck was really going on there. In fact, I hope the creators contemplate bringing that community back for another, different tale. I would love to learn more about the place that hates love.

Lovers Anonymous shows exactly how compelling immersive can be even across technology. It shows that with planning and a true understanding of how we access the modern world, even the technological barrier cannot stop real moments of interaction between characters and audience. The greatest compliment I can give is that I hope Lovers Anonymous returns once more so that other audience members can experience it.

Equally, I hope Candle House Collective continues to use its FireStarter Initiative to bring new creators and experiences to the world. If Lovers Anonymous is what that initiative can help create, I hope they keep starting fires for a long time to come.

Candle House Collective is busy working on their new shows. You can learn more about their company and join their mailing list here.  


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Brassroots District Gets Genuinely Funky — The EOI Review

Logo of the Brassroots District from their album cover.

I stand backstage with the Brassroots District band, holding a ‘band beer’ given to me by their lead guitarist. Normally, I’d be thrilled to have that level of access to a musical group. I’m very uncomfortable thanks to the fight happening between the group’s two lead singers. I may be experiencing a great funk band’s last night together, here in the summer of 1973.

The band producer gives a sarcastic peace sign to you.

Brassroots District: Live in the Lot Summer ’73 offers an unusual hybrid in the realm of live immersive productions. It’s a combination of a real funk concert performed by the Brassroots District band and an interactive narrative about one crucial evening in the band’s history during the summer of 1973.

Audience members become part of the band’s crowd during a parking lot concert before Sly and the Family Stone do a gig. While the band performs, tensions between band members rise to the surface as a producer arrives with his offers of fame.

Copper Jones, one of the lead singers of the band, waves hello to his fans.

Brassroots District: Live in the Lot Summer ’73 offers its audience an immersive experience accessible to almost anyone. Members engage with the story if they wish by interacting with band members, publicists, the producer, a choreographer and even groupies. They can even get a VIP ticket that includes access to the band’s backstage. That backstage area offers more intimate discussion with the characters and unique scenes with actors and audience.

Conversely, an audience member can choose to just come and enjoy one hell of a good 1970’s funk band concert. They can dress up in 1970’s style and spend 90 minutes grooving to music that absolutely sounds like it should have come from that time frame. 


Brassroots District: Live in the Lot Summer ’73 is, quite simply, brilliant. The combination of fantastic music and engaging story works perfectly. During the performance I attended, I engaged with actors and band members throughout. I spotted other audience members doing the same. But I also watched in glee as a ton of individuals who clearly were alive the first time 1973 enjoyed a nostalgia trip. They danced and laughed while wearing outfits that might have been sitting in closets for 50 years. Their enjoyment proves the success of this show.

Ursa Major, the other band lead singer, sings with the dulcet tones of an angel.

Brassroots District: Live in the Lot Summer ’73 works on every level. From the music to the performances, this show creates a synthesis of joy and togetherness. It is the perfect counterpoint to the isolation of the last 16 months and a reminder that humanity is at its best when we come together in happiness and love. If that sounds like I’ve fallen under the old spell of peace, love and joy then great–blame the band. Brassroots District: Live in the Lot is the kind of show that will give anyone that good a time.

Brassroots District: Live in the Lot Summer ’73 has three remaining shows this weekend (Sat at 4 and 7PM and Sun at 7PM.) Tickets are $55 for general admission and $197 for the VIP Backstage Experience for 2 (which from personal experience I highly recommend.) Tickets can be found here.


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