Immersive Experience: THE WILLOWS

Photo by Hatbox Photography

Photo by Hatbox Photography

There is so much to say about Creep LA's newest production, THE WILLOWS, and, yet I can barely capture the words needed to pump out this review. For me, THE WILLOWS has forever changed what an immersive experience should be. It was satisfying, it was sensual, and, in short, it was personal. 

Early on in my evening with THE WILLOWS I was presented with an oddly comforting bowl of soup and a bottomless basket of bread. After lulling me into memories of a childhood home I never had, THE WILLOWS expanded into an ornate and fractal universe. Be forewarned: This home and the people it contains are baroque characters that evade categorization. The choreography of actors was even more fluid. Every moment around the house had a structuring narrative purpose, adding ripe subliminal notes of the supernatural ready to be plucked out of the air by eager houseguests. It was nearly impossible to tell how other people, let alone myself, were travelling from space to space. 

As I shamelessly shoved bread in my face, I was graced with the company of the family's matriarch, Mrs Willows, played by Melinda DeKay (sure, I may be partial because we have the same first name, but, whatever, she was incredible). So good she was at making me feel like I was walking on eggshells, I spent 15 minutes wondering if I should initiate a conversation with her at all. Mrs. Willows' aura was all consuming, but do not make the same initial mistake I did - everything, everyone in this experience is as oxygenated as your own flesh and bone. The entire cast of THE WILLOWS is ready to interact, armed with juicy details to share if you ask the right questions. 

No two guests of THE WILLOWS have the same experience. In some ways, you get to build your narrative arc with the characters you choose. In other ways, it seems some characters were designed specifically for you. After all, my choice was very easy. Conrad, alternately acted by Jacob Miller and Mason Conrad, instantly charmed off my little tie-dye socks. Conrad must have been modeled (at least I desperately hope so) on the unsettling, artistic son of Christopher Walken's character in Wedding Crashers. No, Conrad did not quite make me a painting that was "sexual and violent," but I did not leave without a tiny, personalized artwork from him. Sublime. 

It is important to go with someone you know. You will want to share this shift in your perception and, yet, you will hardly see the others with whom you chose to share it. Without question, shadows of an evening spent with THE WILLOWS will shade the rest of your days. May those shadows never fade. 

Melinda Stang

For more information on THE WILLOWS and to sign up for their mailing list for ticket announcements, visit their website at www.creepla.com.