I had heard the rumors of murder and mayhem behind the closed doors of the theatre. I had been warned that my virtue might be compromised if I entered and witnessed the mysteries that took place in that Devil’s den. However, curiosity got the better of me. I had to go and see whether or not the rumors were true. If they were, I might be in danger. If they weren’t, I could see why society thought the shows were so unbelievably shocking. As I waited my turn outside of the doors with my ticket clenched in my hand, I could feel the nerves slowly crawl up my body. “You two may go on in,” said the bouncer. With those words uttered, I entered the gates of THEATRE MACABRE and encountered a world full of sheer madness and glorious chaos.

THEATRE MACABRE is a show inspired by the Grand Guignol Theatre, a playhouse that specifically focused on the taboos that society tried to ignore. Established in 1897, the Grand Guignol ran for almost 70 years before being shut down in 1962. It was said that it closed due to the after-effects of World War II in the minds of the audience. With that horror cemented in their mind, watching it play out on stage was of no interest anymore. However, THEATRE MACABRE focuses on a time when the theatre was doing fairly well for itself despite the rapidly ascending darkness that tainted its doors.

What I love the most about immersive theatre is that it grants us the opportunity to act past what we have been taught or how we have been essentially trained to behave. It gifts us with the opportunity to learn more about ourselves once we are given the perimeters in which we can run around in persay. The team behind THEATRE MACABRE had made it abundantly clear prior to the show’s opening date how much agency we had and how influential our decisions were to piece. However, one of the questions I had prior to attending this show was whether or not this was in fact true. I can say with 100% certainty that the agency we have is very much large and in charge.

With the safe reminder in the back of my head that we did have agency in this piece and with the additional nudging from a character to be true to myself, there were many moments throughout the course of my evening where I could see how I was impacting the story. Due to the fact that I do not want to spoil anything for anyone, I will refrain from sharing what specifically I did that may or may not have influenced the story.

However, I can say that not everyone will get the same track that I went down. There are a total of 10 tracks that a participant can go on depending on how they interact with characters earlier in the show. As you continue down that track, the tracks divide and split up depending on what the audience decides to do. As I sit here and write this, I am analyzing how my own decisions caused fractures and split up which way my track went even more. And knowing how much power my decisions held creates this sense of power, anxiety, and fascination for me.

The atmosphere and overall environment created by the team at THEATRE MACABRE made the transition from the outside world into the world of the theatre seamless. As soon as we walked up the stairs and entered the lobby of the theatre, it felt like we had completely entered an older theatre. The lighting, set dressing, and the costume design for the performers further enabled us to get into the immersive mindset needed to fully embrace the fun and excitement that this show has to offer. That is if one could call murder exciting? You get where my mind is going hopefully.

For many people, the ticket price will make it difficult for them to justify the purchase. However, there are a multitude of reasons why that shouldn’t be a deterrent. Given the flexible nature of the show via the multiple tracks, the production value, the high acting quality, and the overall immersive atmosphere that we get to plunge into, I would say that the cost of the ticket is more than justified.

If that is not much of a selling point, let me go further. During the two-hour performance, there was no lull. The way the movement and separation of groups were handled throughout the show allowed us to see multiple rooms without feeling rushed but, given the theatrical environment with the murderous intent roaming around in the background, all I could feel was that we were experiencing something akin to unadulterated chaos. We were windswept but in a good way. In a way that made sense to the story.

And, to top it all off, once I realized that the show was over and that it had already been two hours, I was sad. I had so much fun and everything was such a whirlwind that I immediately started to calculate how I could try to budget out buying another ticket. It’s not often that I find a show to have that much of an effect on me and I think THEATRE MACABRE will have that impact on many other people as well.

THEATRE MACABRE is running from October 11 to November 4. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here.

Sarah Musnicky
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