I WANT TO LIVE IN YOUR MOUTH is a new interactive show from writer /director David Ruzicka of JFI Productions (Creep and The Willows), Creative Producer Eric Vosmeier (Creep LA and The Center Theatre Group among others) and Producer OA Experiential. This show is now playing at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, unconnected from the ZJU theatre group, and centers on the fears of childhood coming back to haunt you once more.
I have to say upfront that childhood fears are not a pressure point for me. As a child, I was much more concerned about the Zombie Apocalypse and nuclear war that I ever was about the thing under the bed. I am also 6 year veteran of immersive theatre as an actor, although not a “queen of the scene”, and I am pretty hip to most of what makes interactive and so-called immersive theatre tick. That said, I WANT TO LIVE IN YOUR MOUTH is a somewhat short, 20 minutes long, but engaging and thoughtfully made piece of theatre.
At the beginning of any theatre run, there are normal hiccups and time is needed for the actors and the production to stabilize and find its path to whatever the production’s goal is. In this case, the goal is to scare you and make you remember what it was like to be a child. In this goal, for me, I would say that the goal was not entirely achieved, but I’m a hard nut to crack. What the show did for me was raise a sense of wonder and gave me some serious nostalgia for the scary parts of Disney aka the world famous Haunted Mansion. It’s not the story or effects, but more of a sense of that same feeling that you get when you go to the Mansion. It’s a sense of creepy weirdness and of a goth-y type of fun. Yes, I like being scared, so it’s actually what I call fun. Do I have to mention that The Haunted Mansion has always been my favorite part of Disneyland? The production uses puppetry to good effect and made me feel quite disconcerted about some of the things I was asked to do. I should also mention that I am not the biggest fan of puppets, so they integrated the concept in well for a puppet skeptic such as myself. The one scene that did make me feel quite uncomfortable reminded me of a specific film scare that isn’t part of a scary movie but is extremely effective. I immediately felt nostalgia for both the film and Halloween at that moment.
The hosts are Curtis Tyrone Scott (Theater Macabre), Romeo Armand Seay, and Terra Strong (Bitter At The End) and my host was Romeo Armand Seay. The host is not a figure of fear, but the person meant to guide you and educate you on the story and this was nicely done by Romeo. Fear is a hard emotion for most actors to achieve and while I didn’t believe he was truly afraid, I’m a stickler for realism, he had a certain quality as an actor that was appealing and strange, so it worked for me in that sense. It is also good that production credited the actors, and while I believe there is at least one other actor or voice – possibly the stage manager with helpful directions, I find it admirable that they gave their main actors the proper credit in their press materials when quite a few productions give very little or none at all to the actors who work extremely hard and without whom no production could come alive.
As you may be able to tell, I am trying to give my review with no spoilers because I think that you would enjoy the show much more knowing nothing more than what has already been described. My advice with all interactive and immersive shows (as with most types of entertainment) is to simply open yourself up to experience and go with it. Have fun and find what it means to you and what about it appeals to you. Otherwise, why bother? You are paying money, so you might want to cooperate with the experience. Yes, certain things did not land squarely with me, but they might really get you and vice versa. If I had one overall criticism, it is that at one specific point, and maybe it was my show that something didn’t happen as it should have, there seemed to be an opportunity for a moment and there wasn’t quite the payoff I was kind of hoping for. This, of course, might be an artistic choice, and if so, it did work, because I was sitting there a bit perplexed, but that’s also right when the resonance with The Haunted Mansion came to me.
I WANT TO LIVE IN YOUR MOUTH struck me more like a guided walk-through with a gentle touch and it seemed the creators left some room for your thoughts to become part of the show. The show is in no way extreme horror nor is the physical contact or tasks asked of the guest in the realm of extremity. But it is an enjoyable and unsettling experience. It seems to me that if these creative partners choose to move forward, they have some very interesting potential for the future, as well as doing a show that they can currently be proud of.
For more information or to purchase tickets, click HERE. I WANT TO LIVE IN YOUR MOUTH will be running from now until May 5 and tickets are $47.50.
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