The air is chilly and bites the back of my neck. I look to the man on my left, detached and cold as he is a complete stranger in my eyes. There is no intimacy between us as we move towards the RV on the lot. Why we were called out here, we didn’t know. All we knew was that if we didn’t get in from the cold soon, I was going to turn into a popsicle of a human being. We realized, however, that what we originally thought was going to be a get together between friends would be something else entirely. As we approached the RV, we see her. She’s pacing back and forth inside the RV, which is never a good sign. Something is wrong. I knock on the door and she opens it. Her face betrays her manic worry. She beckons us inside from the cold and soon we are launched into what begins E3W Productions’ latest project, WHERE THE OTHERS ARE.
Anyone who knows us here at Nightmarish Conjurings knows that we’ve been supporters of E3W Productions since the launch of their first production, In Another Room, which was a breathtaking show that took us through an entire haunted house where spirits roamed. Each show they’ve come up with has been amazing in scope, performances, and the logistical and technological challenges they set themselves with each new project. WHERE THE OTHERS ARE changes things up for attendees as it is arguably the most intimate show yet and the most relevant in terms of discourse surrounding Domestic Violence, including some spoilerish aspects that are not as frequently discussed, and more.
Taking place in an RV, the setting is tight and intimate, creating a dynamic that integrates the two-person audience in rather quickly with characters Maggie and Ben. It becomes instantly clear within minutes what the situation is. Maggie is trying to run away from Ben due to some sudden behavioral changes. However, what those behavioral changes are will be something that astounds audience members depending on their life experience. You see, Ben’s behavior has become nicer than what Maggie is used to. Ben’s normal behavior before was like typical wifebeater type of material. He treated Maggie like shit, but there was a predictability to his awful behavior. However, Ben is now presenting as a nice guy. He’s saying and doing nice things. He’s actually caring about Maggie. And that is what has set Maggie off. For anyone familiar with abusive behavior, especially that of the narcissistic personality disorder variety, it can be very easy to understand why the changes are throwing Maggie off.
I’ll say right off the bat that I enjoyed this slight departure from E3W Productions story-wise. Having made their reputation on supernaturally-themed, ensemble-based productions, it was an exciting venture to see how the reduced cast size and more intimate setting would be carried off by the team. A huge part of this had to do with the script written by Melissa Hughes, who wove a nuanced storyline filled with twists and turns that left the audience hanging. I very much appreciated her handling of the grey areas of Domestic Violence as the audience was left guessing as to who was actually the bad guy up until the climax. The more metaphysical, “out there” moments in the storyline were handled with ease and was written in such a way that made sense for the audience member even if things got a little weird.
Another element that contributed greatly to the success of the production was how logistically the team transformed the RV into a believable performance stage as well as utilized the lot to give audience members and actors some breathing room. The lighting cues as well as direction given in certain scenes, especially once rather sensual dance number, helped to provide the audience an easy visual reference between Maggie’s P.O.V. and what was happening right there in the present. While I can only speak of my more sequestered time with Maggie (as there are moments in the show where the two audience members are split up between the two characters), being taken off to explore the world outside the RV provided an avenue to explore those metaphysical elements that I frequently refer back to when I discuss E3W Production’s work with friends. Fair warning, there is a fair amount of sand and potentially creepy mannequins involved in the outside portion, but it is more than worth it.
Unfortunately, what took me a little bit out of the overall production was Emily Goss’s performance as Maggie. With such an intimate setting and with the cast consisting of two people, it makes it more difficult to hide flaws in one’s performance and, while not bad overall, there was a lack of naturalness and nuance to Goss’s performance that left me wanting more from her. While elements of her performance stood out to me like the rage and bitterness Maggie felt over her life and her situation, the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt she was trying to convey weren’t handled as deftly as they could have. And, during our one on ones, there were moments where it felt she might not have been entirely off-script. Considering it was the show’s opening weekend, I do think with more practice, her performance will take on that naturalness needed. On the flip side, Daniel Van Thomas‘ performance as Ben was rather eerie. Utilizing his large build and channeling a social awkwardness that was too relatable for me, his intense performance helped make the audience question whether or not Maggie was truly in justified in her actions towards him. It was that level of nuance that really helped create that necessary grey area to hook the audience in.
Attendees of WHERE THE OTHERS ARE should be aware of the potentially triggering moments that do take place within the realm of the show. There is domestic violence featured in the show as well as gun violence, loud noises, and dark spaces. I know for myself, even while knowing about the domestic violence and gun violence ahead of time, the elements incorporated did shake me. So, I’d rather mention this again in the review as a warning to those that need to vet the show prior to purchasing tickets.
Overall, WHERE THE OTHERS ARE is another successful show from E3W Productions. It examines the futility of humanity within a small, intimate scope while also addressing the complexities of relationships as well as the grey areas that reside within abusive behavior. While I did have a couple of issues with one of the performances, that can easily be overlooked as it was opening weekend. I highly recommend everyone attend this show due to its intimacy, parsing of complicated subject matter, and the fact that you will literally leave wondering, “What the fuck?” But, in a good way. I promise.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 and guidelines implemented by the city of Los Angeles, performances for WHERE THE OTHERS ARE will be postponed until April. All the performances initially set in March will be rescheduled for April. However, we recommend you keep an eye for updates from E3W Productions on Instagram @e3wproductions. If you are interested in purchasing tickets in the meantime, the tickets are $90 and you can purchase your tickets HERE.