Immersive Theater: Speakeasy Society Presents THE JOHNNY CYCLE, PART III: THE LIVING

Speakeasy Society reinvents the textures, tombs, and tales of Hollywood in their most recent production, THE JOHNNY CYCLE, PART III: THE LIVING. From its opening, the introductory audio for the show transforms your car ride to the show from the perfunctory into the prosaic. 

Focusing around the life and works of Dalton Trumbo, the experience was inherently cinematic. At first, you enter into a movie production, but all of a sudden you are thrust into the space between movements becoming surreal, pushing you into the realm of the pathological. Although familiar with the life and works of Dalton Trumbo, the experience left me craving for more details, bleeding over into my googling habits and imagination. And fear not, any newcomers! I entered Part III without attending the previous two parts and did not miss a beat. This chapter featured multiple, intimate one-on-one encounters with actors and it was in these spaces that the narrative, seemingly disparate and disjointed, converged into something grand. A special shout-out to actress Julia Henning for passing notes with me for a seemingly infinite portion of the production and not breaking character - not even the slightest. 

The venue, a mausoleum possessing the ability to endlessly replicate its marbled corridors, was absolutely breathtaking. Being in this space was one thing; entering this altered reality was another thing entirely. At one point, Christie Harms, who played both a production assistant and Trumbo's daughter, unfolded the third act of the story as she held my hand and used the entire space to her advantage. It became impossible to decipher what was scripted and what was improvised. Walking alongside each character felt effortless, purposeful. When comparing notes with a fellow participant in this chapter of THE JOHNNY CYCLE over the weekend, it became immediately clear we had two thoroughly different experiences. Speakeasy Society's ability to choreograph thoroughly gripping, immersive shows on this scale is a marvel in and of itself. The deep narratives and flawless acting only build on this excellence. 

Over the past few months, I have watched Speakeasy Society's altered reality game play gain more traction and attention in the haunt community. While not thoroughly terrifying, this narrative was eerie and chilling. THE JOHNNY CYCLE, PART III: THE LIVING is an event only possible in as storied a town as Los Angeles and Speakeasy Society brings some of its best stories to life. 

For more information on Speakeasy Society, visit http://speakeasysociety.com/

Melinda Stang