Welcome witches and warlocks,
I had the great pleasure of attending Fallen Saints: Dia de Los Muertos and I figured I would offer up some thoughts for my fellow immersive theater enthusiasts. A quick note, this is the event’s second year in existence and it is my first time attending, so I might not have caught all of the Easter eggs put in for those who saw last year’s event.
We begin as a family, entering the graveyard of our loved one with our traditional offering in hand. Our guide leads us to a frozen in place actor, posing as the statue of our dearly departed relative. Once we are all seated, our relatives spring to life and the celebration begins.
Only, this show is not as joyous as one might be lead to believe. Sure, it starts off with puppetry, music, and dancing, but there is something darker lurking beneath the surface. As the characters begin to interact with one another, we see that though they have been in the same graveyard together for a long time, they have definitely not been resting in peace. The transition from celebration to mourning is wonderfully portrayed as the statues we see at the beginning look ready to burst into song, while at the conclusion their faces are painted with regret.
The brilliance here stems from their melding of the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos with another well-known legend. Since they do not say on the website what this second folk tale is, I will leave it out of my review, but by the end it will become very clear to the viewer the nature of this legendary dark spirit. Even those who are able to recognize the basis of the story early on will still face at least one or two surprises before the finale. For me, this worked wonderfully as I had some idea where the story was going, only to have the much darker finale catch me nicely off guard.
The actors were absolutely fantastic in their roles, which is good since they have to start off in celebration, yet end in tragedy. Everyone did a great job, but most people will rightfully walk away praising Gloria Galvan and Stephanie Rojo for their masterful turns. As things turned from light to dark, these two were given the most to do during the transition and handled themselves with aplomb.
Of course, no conversation about something themed around Dia de Los Muertos would be complete without some mention of the aesthetic. The entrance to the main room was decked out with the traditional colors and skulls that highlight the holiday as well as a grave to set the funerary tableau. As we entered, each of the cast members’ costumes kept to the theme with not only the colors, but also the use of skeletal parts on their clothing. The cast also sported makeup that occasionally spoke to the story as one actress, who was particularly unlucky in love, had a broken heart on her forehead. The pedestals the cast members stood upon were brightly colored with grinning skulls to boot. In contrast, the back of this room had a plainly colored mausoleum to signal that though this might be a celebration, death is firmly involved in this event.
As this was a dress rehearsal, there were a few kinks, but I know that the team is already working on these problems. I will mention one of them that I know they will be addressing so that future viewers can tell me if things have improved: the blocking of the actors. I happened to be seated on the floor in one of the corners of the room where I occasionally had an actor blocking my line of sight towards the center of the stage. I overcame this by either getting very close to the person next to me or using the mirror behind me to try to catch the action in the reflection. When I made mention of this, the director said he would be working on the issue so I fully expect it to be solved before opening night.
All in all, this was an excellent theater in the round show that cleverly married together a well-known Mexican holiday with an equally famous folk tale. The aesthetic was pleasing and the actors were absolutely fantastic in their roles. Fans of this holiday or just well done stage shows in general should do themselves a favor and check this production out.