Colleen Pulawski as Dorothy Gale | Photo Courtesy of Speakeasy Society

Dorothy is missing from Oz. Kidnapped? Stolen? Assassinated? No one is entirely certain, but Tik Tok and Jack have what they think is her current location. What they don’t know is what—or who—is inside. And so they reached out for backup.

They reached out for us.

So begins the most recent iteration of The Kansas Collection. While I have only personally been able to get involved in a few chapters, I’ve been keeping track of the ongoing story between Oz and Kansas (connected by portals) and the ever-shifting allegiances and groups vying for control of either—or both—worlds. So I was quite willing to join up on this particular reconnaissance mission.

After all, what could go wrong?

I was very foolish.

Chapter 7: The Heart is a smaller immersive event but the impact of what happens within it will send shockwaves through the rest of the story to come. The narrative being laid out in front of me as I joined in the attempt to determine what was happening to Dorothy entranced me. The story was sharp, the dialogue heart-wrenchingly sad. It’s a perfect example of how a straightforward idea, explained well, can drive an emotional punch directly inside your soul. It is rare that I am moved to tears—but I was definitely wiping a few away by the time this was done.

The actors involved in this piece were equally impressive. I don’t want to spoil exactly who you’re going to see within the walls of the garage at the back of a quiet Burbank house, but suffice it to say that everyone within is in top form. It is clear that they have all grown to inhabit their characters perfectly, and that familiarity makes each character a fully realized individual. When they are hurting, you cannot help but have empathy. When they are angry, you cannot help but be worried for the outcome. And in this case, you would most definitely be right. There is very good reason to be concerned.

Even the location for this particular event made perfect sense to me. Whatever the truth behind what was happening to Dorothy was, it had to be something that the people responsible would not want anyone else to know about or to find. Who would go looking in Burbank? Who would check a garage hidden in a backyard? Absolutely perfect for the scenes in question.

I find the Speakeasy Society’s structure for their Kansas tale to be a stroke of genius. Time moves differently in Oz, allowing each chapter of the tale to be a snapshot of a much larger story. We, those here in ‘Kansas’, only get to jump in every once in a while. In between chapters, time moves on over ‘there’. Such time ‘dilation’ (as they refer to it within the narrative) actually makes every single moment you spend connected that much more important. When you only have snapshots, you have to make the most of them as audience members. The actors, conversely, have to give out as much information as possible and help bridge the time from then to now that’s happened in-between. Done without skill and thought, such a design could be a recipe for disaster.

In the hands of The Speakeasy Society, the Kansas Collection chapters are beautiful chances to see threads of a much larger tapestry. I am truly enamored of how elegantly they pull each chapter together and The Heart is no exception.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can write about this chapter is this: I’m going to do everything I can to make every last remaining chapter. Because I really, truly want to see how this story ends—and how this particular chapter’s end alter the dynamics of Oz forever.

Bravo, Speakeasy Society. You’ve got a rededicated recruit.

Tickets can be purchased at: www.speakeasysociety.com/theheart

Immersive

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