Generally, I find the fourth wall at the theater to be a useful thing. I'm not a big fan of being drawn up onto the stage and participating. Comments directly to the audience, well, they're okay. But, let me sit in the theater. I have one exception to this rule of thumb – I don't mind participating when I'm aware going into it that participation is required of all of the audience members. I'm even a little intrigued to see how artists manage to create an interactive experience for theatergoers.
Given this, I went, without trepidation, to Gyda Arber's Suspicious Package, a noir that she has developed for an audience of four. Arber's premise may sound like it's a revision to cheesy interactive dinner mystery events, where a crime's been committed and the diners have to solve the crime, but it's really much, much more.
After arriving at the Brick Theater (where the show runs through July 26), the four audience members are assigned a role – detective, producer, showgirl or heiress. After donning a character specific costume piece, Arber leads the quartet of theatergoers to the streets of Williamsburg where she outfits each with a Zune Media player. Once the video has started running, the group splits up, following directions to assorted stops in the neighborhood, learning about their character's backstory – via voice-overed thoughts during strolls from one location to the next and via handsomely produced video sequences that feature Arber's professional cast of actors.
From time to time, the action is orchestrated so that a theatergoer playing one role has to interact with fellow audience member in his or her role. At these moments, lines are projected onto the screen of the player, like sides. A clear picture about one's own role in the mystery begins to emerge as one moves along this highly entertaining 45-minute piece, but it's not until after the show's climax, when you've had a chance to chat with your fellow players, that the entire story becomes clear.
Arber's achievement with "Package" is not to be underestimated. She's timed the show to near perfection. Voice-overs, flashback video clips, and underscoring are synched for each character in the tale, and generally these electronic elements end within seconds of the time when you're to begin your next scene with an audience mate or mate(s). Both the video and audio is high-quality (at least for the size of the screen on the Zune). But, most important, Arber's choice of music and images really does make you feel as if you might have traveled back in time some 50 or 60 years to a monochrome Brooklyn universe, when private dicks maneuvered through the streets on the trail of suspicious dames, just trying to make a buck.
Suspicious Package plays Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the month. It's a swell way to spend a late summer afternoon or evening at the theater – and don't worry about being part of the action – that's the point of this ingenious piece.
------ Andy Propst
Suspicious Package continues through July 26 at the Brick Theater (575 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn). Performances begin at 4pm each Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased online at www.ovationtix.com or by calling 212-352-3101. Further information is available online at http://www.bricktheater.com and at http://www.thefifthwall.org.
Here's the YouTube Trailer for the show:
No feedback yet
|« Photo: Royal Court's production of The Seagull, starring Kristin Scott Thomas||Damn Yankees at City Center Encores! - Feature articles »|