People are generally familiar with the concept of fight or flight. I’m going to give a bare bones description. When we are confronted with an uncomfortable situation that raises our hackles, our nervous system starts to send messages to our adrenals to start creating adrenaline i.e. stress hormones. This prompts the flight or fight response. Now what would happen if we were given the option to choose whether or not a person should fight or run away? MB Stage Productions seeks to answer that in THE STUDY.

The audience is taken through a college lecture by the Professor (Bennett Cousins), who introduces us all to the concept of flight or fight before leading into the rules of THE STUDY. We are all given two glowsticks. These glow sticks will be used when we need to determine the fate of the subjects taking part in THE STUDY. Leaving the fate of characters in the hands of the audience? Sign us up!

One of the brilliant components of the show is how the characters are introduced to us. Each character we meet starts off as a typical horror movie trope. This immediately impacts the audience’s decision making process; we know which tropes we like and which ones we despise so there is no hesitations when we make impactful decisions for the characters when their fight or flight response is triggered. However, as the show goes on, we start to see the layers peel back and explore hidden depths to the characters. Being able to see these characters as three-dimensional people rather than tropes makes certain decisions harder to contend with. By the time you start learning more about these characters, their fate has already been sealed.

The fascinating thing is that each show can play out differently based off of the decisions audience members make throughout the course of their show. In the show I attended, we were out for blood. Unfortunately, that meant that only one person survived. It is possible for all characters to survive, but it is also possible for all of them to die. It just depends on what choices you make. Remember, every action has a consequence. Also, I would love to hear how you guys handle your shows. I have a theory for how to get each character to survive, but I won’t reveal my thoughts until well after Fringe ends. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Although I enjoyed the production, I was a bit bummed that there weren’t more immersive elements involved for the audience to play with. In spite of being advertised as immersive theatre, it is rather light on the immersive elements. Prior to the show’s start, there is some mingling between the cast and some of the members of the audience. After a brief introduction by our Professor on how to utilize our decision making powers in THE STUDY, audience members are relegated to the general role of observer.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the show. THE STUDY gave the audience an opportunity to play out different scenarios when confronted with a fight or flight scenario. The combination of acting, fighting choreography, and the audience’s voting interaction kept the show fun and interesting enough to make me want to come back and try again. I highly recommend seeing this show.

THE STUDY is being staged at The Complex as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Shows will take place from June 9 through June 22, For more information and to purchase tickets, visit their page at www.thestudyplay.com.

Sarah Musnicky
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Sarah is the managing editor of Nightmarish Conjurings and a lover of all things magical and horrific. All who are familiar with her can attest for her love of glitter, adorable plush, and obsession with folklore and mythology. When she's not chasing after things she probably shouldn't hug, Sarah is making sure that Shannon's sanity stays intact long enough for deadlines to be tackled.
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