The air is stale and the fluorescent lights flicker as I walk through a motel parking lot trying to find my car. Once I see it, I make my way over and open the passenger door before sitting inside. The car is small and compact, almost claustrophobic even and I could feel the weight of my worries hanging over me. I am Victor Hamlin and this is the start of Echo 1 / Inside My Soul.
Echo 1 / Inside My Soul is the latest show from Shine On Collective. Throughout the course of the show, audiences will encounter the first wave of memories that Victor obsesses over. In this particular echo, he agonizes over the night he discovered what happened to Elizabeth. If you are familiar with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you’ll have an idea of what has happened to her prior to the show’s events.
The show starts with an audio experience after you enter a parked car. You are handed a pair of headphones where you will listen to Victor’s thoughts as he recalls the night he discovered Elizabeth and constructs and deconstructs what could have led to that night and engages in self reflection. It sounds like a man trying to make sense of death, but it sounds as something much more than that. Throughout the course of the audio, an echo of Victor sits beside you in the car. Larry Duncan, who plays Victor, seamlessly emotes as the audio plays out and you can easily connect the thoughts expressed with Duncan’s carefully timed actions so that they sync at the right moments.
There comes a moment when you move from the car into a motel room while still listening to the audio. What could turn into an awkward moment logistically with the headphones is taken care of seamlessly once we meet Elizabeth and we take on the role of Victor Hamlin. Elizabeth, played by Karlie Blair, lays out her feelings before Victor and takes us to a vulnerable place where we revel in our feelings of shame and regret that the woman who loved us is now gone because of our own actions.
By the time we are led to the climax and see the aftermath of what Hamlin’s work has left behind, we are taken through a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m not sure if either of this could have been accomplished without the deft acting handiwork of Blair combined with the audio and set dressing. To have the ability to take audiences through such an emotional whirlwind in the span of a half-hour is nothing short of amazing. And, with all honesty, it does make me very interested to see what further echoes we have left to explore in the remainder of the series.
However, I do believe that it took more work from the audience to fully immerse at the start of the show. When we arrive at the car at the start of the show, there isn’t really the chance for audience members to shirk off the worries and stresses from the outside world before putting on the headphones. A little transition moment written into the interaction between Victor Hamlin and the audience member at the start of the show might help make the transition process easier for audience members to immersive themselves before putting on the headphones.
Because the show is very audio focused, it may pose some difficulty for those who have auditory difficulties. However, I would highly recommend contacting those at Shine On Collective to open up a dialogue pertaining to adaptations that could be made should you attend a showing in the future.
Echo 1 / Inside My Soul is currently sold out. However, there are talks of remounting the show at a later point in the season. Updates will be sent out via their mailing list, which you can sign up for at http://www.shineoncollective.com.
And one last thing before you go. Don’t ever forget that it is always watching, Victor. Always watching…
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