I stumbled upon The Severance Theory: Welcome to Respite by chance, and I will say, at first, I was not excited. My initial experience with immersive theater had been disorganized, a little manic and underwhelming. I wasn’t excited to replay past events.
I rode my bike from Hollywood – 3.9 miles to the Silver Lake Area and as instructions insisted, I waited by a green ribbon under a floodlight.
For the next 30 minutes, my name is Alex Sorenson. I had inherited my family home which was left to me by my mother who had recently passed away from Ovarian Cancer. I went along for the ride with my head in a mindset to play along with however the evening goes. As dusk turned to night, a woman came around the corner, smiling and ready to great me.
She apologizes for my mother’s passing and leads me to the front door. Apologetically, she has misplaced the key and needs to get it. I have a seat on the stairwell and see a maroon backpack…a note sticking out…read me. As the introduction unfolded, I became so wrapped up that I didn’t realize a woman had appeared.
Molly Sorenson, my mother, a ghost, a memory, I’m not sure yet. She smiles and addresses me as if I am a child…am I a child? Yes, the game is set and I immediately, and comfortably relax into this childlike role. It’s odd how comfortable and easy it was to slide into character. Maybe it’s the tough week, maybe it’s the kind smile and soothing way she speaks to me. Whatever it is, I’m happy to play the part.
Inside the home is comfortable, there has been thought and care put into making sure I feel like this is my home. “Put your backpack down,” she says, and I do. Into the kitchen we go. She hands me a Capri Sun and after biking here I internally bless this woman and drink down happy memories of Capri Suns and lunches with friends in Elementary School. As the snacks are flowing and Mother makes dinner, I sense a feeling brewing. It’s similar to the one you sometimes feel when you are alone in the ocean. You become hyper-aware that beneath the surface, something much more dangerous is lurking about. You may never see it, but that feeling is always close by. That’s the way I feel. I feel a mothers love and a mother’s fear. Of what? Is she afraid of me? I watch her curiously and she watches me back, both as familiar strangers.
Dad’s home! He’s all smiles, and there’s an obliviousness that seems to be present. But he wants it to be there, he seems to be actively like Mom, trying to dance away something dark. What is everyone afraid of? My Father tells me he loves me and that he’s so happy to have me back from my Aunts house. There’s something more he wants to say.
This is what my first immersive experience should have been. I applaud Kelly Pierre, Payden Ackerman, Danielle Levesque, and Lyndsie Scoggin. You have all truly created something incredibly unique and immersive on a level that hits all your senses. Kelly, who plays Molly, and Payden, who plays Micheal, are so wonderfully layered as the parents in such a short amount of time. They themselves are fully immersed in the character and effortlessly interact with me as if we had been rehearsing for months. There are some beautifully curated moments in the hallway as you lay in bed and listen to the whispered talk, you have to experience them for yourself.
This was 30 minutes, but I would have gladly spent as much time as they would have allowed to really dive into the story and start peeling back the layers. Everyone has 30 minutes to spare, and you need to use them to experience The Severance Theory: Welcome to Respite, I won’t forget it, and you won’t either once you’ve experienced it. For more on The Severance Theory, visit www.coactproductions.com.