It’s a dark, drizzly night in Los Angeles and I’m waiting on the corner of the street in anticipation for a dinner party. It has been two years since I’ve visited The Willows family and it was long overdue for me to pay my respects. Situated in a beautiful mansion in the heart of Los Angeles, THE WILLOWS invites guests to experience an unforgettable night of celebration, mourning, exposed secrets, and unimaginable horrors during a 2-hour dinner party, unlike anything they could have ever imagined.
Upon entering the sprawling mansion, we begin our evening in the sitting room where we mingle with the other guests and interact with members of the Willows family. Having gone through this experience before, I had made the decision to hang back so as to give the newcomers a chance to acclimate themselves to their surroundings. As the drinks poured, I found myself chatting with different family members as we reminisced about Jonathan. You see, this dinner party wasn’t just a chance for friends to get together, no, it was much, much more, as this was a time to raise our glasses and say a prayer for the untimely departure of Jonathan, the beloved husband/son/brother of this mysterious family.
When it came time for dinner, we were brought to the foyer where the matriarch, Mrs. Willow, addressed us before we made our way to the dining room. Once there, we feasted on an array of finger foods such as cheese and crackers, assorted deli meats, and baskets of bread, before indulging in some delicious soup to warm our souls on this rainy February evening. The mood was electric, with the guests talking animatedly as the wine poured into our glasses (though I would like to take this time to say that I was very grateful for the non-alcoholic offerings that they had). However, I begin to notice a change with the Willows family – as different personalities began to emerge, wiping off the mask of faux delight in celebrating the once lively Jonathan. It’s then that different members of the family took groups of us throughout the house where the horrifying truth of what exactly happened behind these closed doors was revealed.
As I mentioned above, this was my second time attending and I was very lucky to go on a different route than the previous one I was on, which is one of the reasons why THE WILLOWS is such a magnificent feat in terms of production and execution. There are so many different routes to go on, so many different stories to immerse yourself in, that the replayability of this experience is extremely high. Now having done this numerous times, I have begun to put the pieces of the whole story together in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have had I just gone that one time. Each storyline is so detailed and carefully constructed that it’s easy to lose oneself in the unfolding narrative – even when you see the danger coming a mile away.
What I really appreciate about THE WILLOWS is that it’s perfect for those who are interested in testing out immersive theatre for the first time. The horror isn’t grotesque, instead, it’s more unsettling (especially when you notice something creeping in the shadows), and there are no extreme elements that would put anyone in harm’s way. You will be moved around, you may be separated from your group, and you may be asked to do a task, but nothing is forced upon you should you feel anxious or concerned. I will say, the entire experience does have an air of believability to it, which can add to the shock of what you are seeing, but it’s important to remember, this is just a show. With that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t applaud the entire cast for putting on a tremendously flawless performance. Their dedication to the craft and their ability to transform into these characters really allows for the guests to be drawn into their little world of horror.
All that said, I can’t urge you enough to get tickets for THE WILLOWS. I understand that the price point of $152 may throw some of you off, but remember, you are getting a 2-hour experience that includes food and alcohol inside a beautiful mansion – something that many other experiences don’t offer. With THE WILLOWS and Creep, their flagship show, JFI Productions continues to put out quality experiences for those who have an appreciation for immersive theatre. With a stunning backdrop, a haunting tale intertwined with secrets, and performances that will stay with you long after dinner has ended, THE WILLOWS is the must-see event of LA. Waste no more time and visit www.thewillowsLA.com now to reserve your ticket before they sell out and have no fear, this family welcomes you with open arms…