In Another Room by E3W Productions [Tickets]

Tickets on sale now for In Another Room.

Dates: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays August 11-27, 2017
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Los Angeles, CA
Price: $60.00 tickets here
More Information: Instagram

With so many ARGs cropping up in Los Angeles it’s hard to know which ones to focus on. I personally am looking for those that will ultimately end up as an immersive theater piece so those that have a pop up event or ticketed show definitely catch my interest.

I had heard about In Another Room’s Instagram account and even started following them before any show or tickets were announced. Seemingly out of nowhere tickets are on sale for this event. The buzz surrounding it is pretty good so check it out if you get a chance!

E3W Productions

The Rise and Fall of Dracula by Cadame Co. [Tickets]

Dates: July 14 and 15, 2017
Location: Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
Address: 5636 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles CA, 90038
Price: $15.00 tickets here
More Information: Hollywood Fringe, Cadame Co., Instagram

I had the privilege of checking out the excellent Firelight immersive experience at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre and am excited to check out this piece in the same venue.

Check out the review here.

A(partment 8) Remount by ABC Project

A hauntingly intimate masterpiece.

Experienced: June 17, 2017 at Hollywood Fringe Festival
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Los Angeles CA, 90038
Price: $17.00
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 10 minutes
More Information: Hollywood Fringe, ABC Project Site, ABC Project on Facebook, Annie Lesser on Twitter, Annie Lesser on Instagram

This was my second time through Annie Lesser’s A(partment 8). I was contemplating selling my ticket because it affected me so much the first time (at last year’s Fringe) that I didn’t necessarily want to put myself through it again. I decided to give it a go because it’s only 10 minutes long and I was curious to see if anything had changed.

I don’t want to spoil it too much in case there is another remount but I will compare my first and second visits to A(partment 8) as it does differ even though the show is pretty much the same.

Both times through I was rendered speechless. The setting and tone is so spot on and disturbing that speaking, as if everything is OK, just feels wrong. I intended to say a lot more the second time around but my mind wouldn’t comply. I noticed the pitch-perfect acting and monologue this time — so much so I am convinced it has changed but am not so sure.

Needless to say this is an impactful piece and the first time affected me so much I sat in my car for about 10 minutes thinking of things I have never dreamed of thinking about before. It must have been some form of shock to my system. Annie Lesser has crafted a masterpiece that will haunt my dreams forever.

ABC Project

The Kansas Collection (Chapters One and Two) by The Speakeasy Society

Remount tickets here! Mostly a logistical review compared to going through Chapters One and Two separately.

Experienced: June 17, 2017
Location: Thymele Arts
Address: 5481 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, 90029
Price: $40.00
Tickets: Remount tickets for each chapter here
Audience Size: 2-4
Runtime: 40 minutes
More Information: Kansas Collection, Hollywood Fringe, The Speakeasy Society, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

I had already gone through the first three chapters (on separate nights) of The Kansas Collection but was very interested in seeing Chapters One and Two back-to-back.

Logistically this was buttery smooth but I guess it makes sense since The Speakeasy Society had remounted both of these shows separately a few times already. The space they used for this double feature was the same they used for Chapter Two.

My first time through Chapter One was in the backyard of a house in Los Angeles. I doubt the change to an indoor space detracted much from a first timer’s experience but being outdoors matched the big top tent decor much better. There was an extra scene between Chapters One and Two that served as a transition between the two stories that occurred via e-mail my first time around. After this interaction you are told to wait in the lobby for your number to be called. It would have been nicer to roll directly into Chapter Two but they make the wait fit with the story.

I commend The Speakeasy Society for going out of their way to make sure I got to experience something new in both Chapter One and Two. The girl checking me in asked, in detail, who I met with when I went through my first time and coded it up somehow on the numbered sticker everyone places on their shirt. She drew designs using a pen and colored the borders with a highlighter. This type of attention to a repeat visitor has made me a fan for life!

Red Flags by Capital W

Six words to describe Red Flags: poignant, engaging, evocative, surprising, fun, depressing.

Experienced: June 17, 2017 at Hollywood Fringe Festival
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Los Angeles CA, 90038
Price: $25.00 (current run is $45 check here for more info)
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 60 minutes (current run is 70-85 minutes)
More Information: Hollywood Fringe, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

I missed Capital W’s Hamlet-Mobile but had heard great things about it. Since Red Flags was my first Capital W show I didn’t know what to expect with a description of being like a “bad first date”. All I knew from the Hollywood Fringe site was that the show was an hour with one actor and one audience member.

It started with an e-mail asking to meet at an intersection near a bar at my specified time. On the day of the date some text messages were exchanged. When I finally met Emma in person it was a whirlwind of an almost hour long conversation with surprisingly few awkward silences (I counted maybe 1). The flow was so natural — the give and take, meandering topics, references to everyday life, and interesting stories. It’s a testament to the writing and acting that this performance goes off without a hitch.

Capital W has mastered the art of conversation.

I would recommend this to anyone who is OK with a longer form conversational show as it is memorable and a highlight of my theater going experience. The character Capital W has created is more real than most people I’ve met.

The fact that this is a one-on-one show means tickets will be hard to come by so if there is ever an extension beyond Fringe (you’re in luck there have been extensions! click here for more info) do yourself a favor and buy a ticket immediately!

Some mildly spoiled random thoughts:

  • While there were definitely red flags throughout the performance I was a bit surprised at how I reacted to them. This is where my “depressing” description comes into play. To me Emma was so vulnerable and self-critical I felt extremely sorry for her. I was compelled to try and make her feel better about every negative thought or action she revealed. I think I did an OK job with much of it though I did stumble a bit toward the end. This probably says more about me than anything I’d be very curious how others handled it.

  • I was given a couple of choices for the date (go to the bar or for a walk) and in retrospect I’m wondering if the bar would have been more awkward (in a good way?) than a stroll through the neighborhood. I’m very curious how the setting affects the show if at all.

  • After talking to a friend (who had a date right before I did) we realized just how scripted everything actually was. Every story point that we could think of was repeated. It made us appreciate the show that much more because it seemed impossible to us that what we experienced so natural yet scripted.

iConfidant Meet and Greet by The Lust Experience

Chapter 1 concludes with major reveals in a jam packed pop-up event.

Experienced: June 17, 2017 at Hollywood Fringe Festival
Location: Estrella
Address: 8800 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Price: Free (iConfidant beta program participation required)
Audience Size: 40-50
Runtime: 60 minutes (15 minute reveal, private bar space)
More Information: iConfidant site, iConfidant Facebook, The Lust Experience site, Instagram, Facebook

Background of the iConfidant experience leading up to the pop-up event:

Seemingly out of nowhere (as is sometimes the case with The Lust Experience) a website revealed a new product that would help you “find your missing piece today.” This site promised to match you up with a confidant. Calling themselves a companion site they claimed to be different than the usual dating sites.

The process started with sending an email to their contact address. I quickly got a response from the Founder / CEO of iConfidant Stacey Erikson saying that she added me to their e-mail list of those interested in the program.

About a week later I got an email congratulating me on being selected for the beta test with a few questions for me to answer. These questions presumably helped to match me with my iConfidant. After another week the correspondence between me and my iConfidant was underway with a simple “Hi” emailed to me from my iConfidant.

Over the next 5 weeks or so my iConfidant and I had exchanged a total of 18 emails. The responses I got started out very generic and almost robotic which played into the theories people had that we were communicating with an AI instead of a real person. It was a slow pace but enough to talk about things ranging from the loss of a loved one to what our favorite TV shows were. It became obvious that I was talking to an extremely nuanced AI or an actual person. The experience for me was positive overall and I was excited to see a Facebook post mentioning that we would get to meet our iConfidant in person on June 11th.

Up until this point I had no idea what my iConfidant’s name or gender was. I had asked for a name but that question was ignored. I was very curious what the meetup would ultimately be. As the days drew closer to June 11th some suspicious things happened.

  • Stacey Erikson did a facebook live video to discuss potential technical issues with the beta related to a security breach but reiterated that everything was fine and on for the June 11th meet & greet. It reminded me of a hostage video with her frequently looking at someone off camera to make sure she’s saying the right thing.
  • Some participants in the beta program were getting calls and even visits from Stacey about some weirdness with iConfidant (a physical bugging device in someone a participant’s house for example).
  • Literally minutes before reservations were released for the iConfidant Meet & Greet there was another facebook live video where Stacey hauntingly declares that she has no idea who the iConfidants we have been corresponding with are.

Day of the event:

The morning of the Meet & Greet we were emailed a zip code to be in for the 2pm event. Eventually we found out the event was to be held at Estrella in West Hollywood and introductions would start at 2:20PM. There was a private space for the iConfidant Meet & Greet attendees and after walking in we put a nametag on. This fit perfectly with the Meet & Greet theme but also allowed us to mingle with other iConfidant beta program participants.

We were gathered into a private theater space with seats in a room behind the bar at exactly 2:20PM for “introductions”.

Introductions begin (live streamed here):

The crowd was anxious as we filed into the theater. There was a tangible but oddly somber excitement in the air. Almost as if we knew something bad was about to happen. A legitimate meetup of someone you had been corresponding with for over a month wouldn’t feel so oddly formal. One individual even brought a bouquet of flowers for his iConfidant and had to awkwardly file into a theater with them.

A man finally stepped on stage encouraging us to whoop and holler to meet our iConfidants with “Who wants to meet their iConfidants!!” Suddenly he became very serious, robotic, almost possessed, as he started to yell at us about submitting ourselves wholly to The Lust Experience. The lighting on him and his tone of voice put a damper on the excitement as this event took a sudden sinister tone.

This was the beginning of many game changing reveals packed into the short 15 minute presentation:

  • Stacey didn’t know the meet & greet was still happening after her last live stream revealed she wasn’t in control of iConfidant
  • Kristen (who was filming Stacey’s final live stream) was playing her and used Stacey’s revelation as bait to get us all to come to this event
  • Anoch (deity worshipped by the cult in The Tension Experience) is a part of The Lust Experience story. Up until this point there wasn’t much tying The Lust Experience to The Tension Experience.
  • Tom (scientist that played Addison’s faux father and creator of brainwashing helmet technology in The Tension Experience) was behind the takeover of iConfidant from Stacey

The biggest reveal was when the crowd, once again, was asked the if we wanted to see who our iConfidants were. At this point I expected a group of handlers (female characters from The Tension Experience, dressed in white, taken in by the cult to follow Anoch) since many of the reveals up until this point were references to the previous season.

Only one hooded person came out on stage. The hood came off revealing Addison. The same Addison that drove off in the dramatic finale of The Tension Experience after she found out that much of her reality in the OSDM ‘cult’ was fabricated and that Tom wasn’t even her father.

One person was corresponding with all of us via email. She was all of our iConfidants. This reveal left everyone speechless. It tied together the story from the previous season with this current season. It brought back ties to the OSDM cult and Anoch and all the folklore we came to love. It re-introduced the main character through most of the live event from last year.

The Lust Experience

Tickets to the Meet & Greet were limited to those who were part of the iConfidant beta program so there was at least some vested interest in the reveal of our iConfidants. Anyone who was not a part of The Tension Experience would have probably been very confused but hopefully extremely intrigued. We had time to mingle after the presentation in private to discuss story points further. Overall this event was a great way to end Chapter 1 of The Lust Experience.

This event, despite not being fully immersive in nature, is a very satisfying way to further the long form episodic story being woven for us. Last year’s Scare LA presentation played out similarly and was what got me hooked into their world. I had little idea what was going on at the time but could tell by audience reaction that something very unique was brewing. Come along for the ride you won’t regret it!

Sweet Dreams - Part One - The Prologue by Shine On Collective

Short but sweet intro to an exciting new story.

Experienced: June 10, 2017 at Hollywood Fringe Festival
Location: Various
Address: Los Angeles CA, 90038
Price: $15.00
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 20-25 minutes
More Information: Hollywood Fringe, Shine On Collective Site, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Sweet Dreams is a short piece that serves as a prologue to a longer show Shine On Collective is staging in October 2017. The show, which takes place in a U-Haul, was listed at a 15 minute run-time but was more like 20–25 minutes. Experiencing a show in a U-Haul is not as bad as it sounds and, if anything, it works perfectly for this show. What they have done with this space reminds me a bit of what The Nest has done with their garage which, if you’ve been through The Nest, is a great compliment.

One minor quibble to the U-Haul setting is I could hear a portion of another patron’s show going on during mine and it was slightly distracting. I’ve experienced much more disruption at other shows but it’s worth mentioning in case you have the opportunity to take the first time slot for the night.

The acting, story, and setting are all intriguing and I can’t wait to continue the story. In fact when I was handed a flyer for the full show in October I replied “I wouldn’t miss it for the world”.

Shine On Collective

Inductiō by Santu Deliria

Exciting and tense debut show from a brand new group.

Experienced: June 10, 2017
Location: Zombie Joe’s Underground
Address: 4850 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood CA 91601
Price: $15.00
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 20 minutes
More Information: Santu Deliria site

I picked up tickets immediately to this show thinking it was put on by Zombie Joe since I had previously done Tortured Souls and had a great time. I soon found out that this was a show being put on by a brand new group and got a little nervous.

Santu Deliria

This is a full-contact immersive experience.
Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
Participants will be required to read and sign a simple waiver before entering.
Participants should dress comfortably.
Persons of a sensitive disposition should not attend.
Persons with medical conditions should contact to determine whether this theatrical experience is suitable for them.
Please contact with any further questions.

Disclaimer for Inductiō

On the day of my show I got a phone call from Santu Deliria asking if I could show up at midnight instead of my ticketed 11:30pm timeslot. The line was very short when I got there with maybe 6 or 7 people standing outside of Zombie Joe’s Underground. I waited about an hour and a half contemplating what I was getting myself into.

Note this was posted well after the show’s run and extensions. There are strong spoilers ahead:

Before letting the next guest (victim?) go into the theater a security guard does what looks almost like a quick field sobriety test. Maybe to make sure the patron is in decent enough shape to go through whatever goes on in that building. Or maybe just to psyche everyone out. Whatever the reason it’s a pretty effective way to start the show.

Once inside it was very dark and I was told to follow the path. The path was very long and there was atmospheric lighting and music. It reminded me of a haunted house and I was extremely tense walking down the path into the next room. Slowly inching into the room I was permanently wincing in anticipation. It’s one of those moments where you know something is going to happen it’s just a matter of when.

Sure enough I got grabbed from the side and a whirlwind of activity began: There was me being forced to the ground, pressure applied to my body, forced to sit on a chair, getting tied to said chair, blindfolded, cloth being tied to my arm, a needle injecting me, whispers and questions in my ear by what sounded like Satan himself. Fingers, there were fingers, forcing my mouth open, pouring unknown liquids into my mouth, touching the insides of my mouth, my teeth, my tongue. Luckily there were also medical gloves. Sanitation is important and appreciated in a full-contact immersive experience.

I was wondering if my whole experience would be with blindfold but we were just beginning. When the blindfold was finally lifted I saw a few intimidating characters in my face. I was led to another area where I met with 2 or 3 different characters one after another. These short scenes were the highlight of the experience with scripted monologues ranging from paranoid psychosis to sad desperation. These characters made me feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and disgusted at times.

I was sent back into the room with the chair. Someone else was tied up to the chair, blindfolded, and struggling. It took me a moment to realize that the person in the chair was the next patron going through the experience. It evoked a strange form of déjà vu and awareness with me on the other side. One of the actors put a medical glove on my hand. I knew exactly what to do.

Immediately afterwards I was handed a gun. The guy handing it to me made sure to cock the gun first. He told me to point it at the unknowing patron tied to the chair and to pull the trigger. I pointed the gun at the girl in the chair and at the last moment pointed it away before firing the gun. I was led out of the experience with some disappointed commentary from the guy who gave me the gun “What happened man? I thought you could do it..”

I hadn’t been through this scene before but had heard of one similar from Blackout. Some have questioned if this was a rip off but I took it as an homage. It is one of those classic scenes that is undeniably Blackout but I can see why people ask.

Overall I enjoyed this show a lot. The acting, environments, situations, and pacing were all fantastic. It felt like a nice mix of traditional and extreme haunted house elements with some acted scenes and interactions you see in great immersive theater. There’s great potential for Santu Deliria and I will definitely be checking out their future shows.

Dark Arts - Prelude

Personalized therapy session introducing the main characters for Dark Arts.

Experienced: June 6, 2017
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Los Angeles, CA 90035
Price: $20.00
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 30 minutes
More Information: Hollywood Fringe

I was on the fence with getting tickets to Dark Arts but I was sold after Lawrence Meyers’ performance in a Periscope (of all places) describing his involvement in the Prologue for The Lust Experience. What could have been a simple explanation ended up being a short piece of theater with subtly delivered scripted jokes and dialog between Lawrence and his daughter. It was way more entertaining than it had a right to be.

The Prelude started with an email questionnaire with a few questions about my personal crisis. I try not to dwell on life’s problems but felt I should play along and came up with two different issues.

A second email came with instructions on where to meet and mentioned arriving 15 minutes early. I’m glad I did because in that time I got to meet with an assistant for a short prelude to the prelude in the downstairs lobby of the hotel (which served as the venue for both the Prelude and Finale). Natalie was drinking wine and I could tell she was a little buzzed. She loosely alluded to some funny business between Lyndsey and Andrew as if they were an item. She also made sure to tell me I made a great choice and that my personal crisis would be solved because they were the best at what they do.

After the short intro I was told to go up to the second floor and follow the signs with the Klein & St. Jude logo. I ended up in a conference room and walked in on Lyndsey and Andrew having a heated discussion. They apologized and let me sit while they walked out of the room to finish what sounded almost like an argument.

When they came back we went through what an initial consultation would likely feel like with personal crisis management specialists (if that’s even a thing). What followed was a pseudo-therapy session hitting on both of my crises with surprising detail and sensitivity.

Some of the stories Andrew would tell to try and help me in my crisis would also have a secondary meaning as it became clearer that the argument I overheard was about Lyndsey cheating on Andrew. The slow burn in which this thread played out over the course of the roughly 30 minute show (between Natalie downstairs and the conference room scene) fired perfectly.

While the Prelude was a short show it was longer than I had originally expected due to the 20 minute ticket intervals. It was an unusual mix of subtle character and story development combined with a therapy session.

The Johnny Cycle Part III - The Living by The Speakeasy Society

The Speakeasy Society draws from Johnny Got His Gun written by Dalton Trumbo.

Experienced: May 27, 2017
Location: Mountain View Mausoleum
Address: 2300 Marengo Ave., Altadena, CA
Price: $65.00
Audience Size: 20
Runtime: 120 minutes
More Information: The Speakeasy Society, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

The Speakeasy Society

It is an anti-war story about a soldier who returns from war without his arms, legs, face, or the ability to speak.

With a heavy story about war, this immersive play took place at the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena, on Memorial Day weekend. The Speakeasy Society did great job with setting up the mood they even produced a 25 minute audio piece to listen to on the way to the mausoleum. In addition to mentally preparing the audience for the story it also caught those of us up who missed the previous parts.

Just walking among the mausoleum there was air of sadness. As we moved from scene to scene, there was a chance to glance at the names on the tombs dating from the early 1800s, names with love ones half there and half still living, and names written waiting for an end date.

We weaved in and out of large shared group scenes, to smaller groups of ten, to even smaller groups of 1 or 2. As with all Speakeasy Society productions the acting was superb. Only later did I realize there were multiple paths. The path I followed at points had Johnny’s mother, the girlfriend he left behind, the author Trumbo, and a line of cots.

The expansive set, the mood, and direction was pure brilliance. I would have loved to see this play multiple times to go down every path.

My only hope is that Speakeasy Society remounts The Johnny Cycle. I missed parts 1 and 2 which happened years prior.

This is my favorite Speakeasy Society piece to date you can tell it was a labor of love. I prefer this longer format (over 2 hours long) to the Kansas Collection’s shorter (15 to 30 minute) pieces.