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 SantuDeliria.com to determine whether this theatrical experience is suitable for them.
Please contact SantuDeliria.com 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.