Whenever I contemplate an immersive production, as either audience member or creator, there are a few things that consistently roll around in my head. The story always calls first for me, because I want to understand why a narrative is being told, why here and now. A close second must always be the design, as I believe that immersive theatre can transport audiences to another world in a way that no other art form can quite emulate. Finally, I believe that the right talent can bridge both earlier elements together; indeed, even the best story and design need the human touch to live and breathe.
E3WProductions’ 2018 version of In Another Room grants audience members that beautiful moment when narrative, design and talent all combine into something transcendent. It is rare to have a production that captures all three elements to such precision. In Another Room is one such rare and shining example.
Creators Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling and Natalie Jones first brought In Another Room to life in 2017. For 2018, they’ve kept the same general premise of the show, a journey through the ghost tales of a home. But the stories themselves (as well as the location) are entirely new.
From the moment audiences enter the house, they will find themselves in a space that appears to defy the boundaries of its outside walls. That’s a testament to absolutely incredible design work. In every space that I entered in the show, the design work was exactly as it needed to be to tell the story—often in shocking and unimaginable ways. There was one room that I found myself in where I quite sincerely don’t (still) understand how they can ever transform it back to a normal room. What was done felt so incredibly permanent, so completely altered, that I could not envision it returning ever to a normal room.
And then I found myself in such a space again. And again. More than once I gasped, as something was suddenly different than I expected it to be. Such surprises made me eager to see everything the house had to offer.
Equally impressive are aspects of design that are often forgotten or ignored. Daniel Tator’s sound design caught every second of noise in just the right tone and location, while the score by Nathaniel Matthew David and Jeremy Lamb was perfect in its timing, mood and tone. Sound is an equal partner to visual and it was quite a delight to see them both treated equally importantly.
It’s a design that I will be contemplating for a long time to come.
It’s much harder to talk about the narrative without spoiling anything and for this show I quite specifically do not want to do that in any way. Half of the joy in this house is learning its secrets in that specific moment and in the unique ways that they are unveiled. But I will say that the narrative was strong and compelling, with language that for most of the story held me very much in its thrall. One of the stories did not hold me as effectively in its narrative, especially after the strength of the first (and in my opinion the strongest) ghost tale. But the visuals of the weaker story were so potent that they more than made up for the slightly weaker tale.
And to be very clear, I am talking here of degrees. Everything in this show narratively is very strong overall, and its last moments are so potent audience members will feel them for hours afterwards (at least if my reaction was any example.)
As for the talent, I wish I had enough space to praise every one of them by name—but to do so would take pages and once again spoil far too much. But I did want to point out a few actors and moments that really stuck out for me. Kali Cook’s use of a red ribbon was heartbreaking. Ian Dick’s desperation was practically tangible and tasteable—and that was before he caused the most shocking transformation of them all. And as for Emily Goss: the truth you put into that moment of choice was raw and harsh and full of such clarity. But I could say similar moments about the rest of the cast with equal ease, because this is a fantastic pool of talent. The cast of In Another Room captures the moments and the reality of these ghost stories perfectly. And they also do something else: they give them life.
For that is why we all love ghost stories. When we are living, we interact with each other on a constant basis. But once we are gone, the stories told about us are all that remains. In fact, all of history is a ghost story.
In Another Room recognizes that ghost stories are about real people in a real moment of time. This production treats ghost stories with the dignity and weight they deserve and in so doing elevates the past and the dead into a wonder of artistry. Elusive and intentionally haunting, In Another Room reminds us that no life is without value and no life should ever be lost. It lets us take stock in the value of the past and the promise of a future—but never lets us ignore that all we have are snapshots to remember any of us.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit https://inanotherroom.brownpapertickets.com.
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