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Oblivious: A Videogame Theatre Experience

cabaret & variety · active captivation games · Ages 10+ · family friendly · flashing lights · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by JORDAN POPE

June 14, 2016 certified reviewer

What I liked

The lighting, the sound, the production design, the costumes, the story, the presentation, the interactivity – it was all done very well. I instantly knew the show’s genre just based on these factors. The costumes were done well, especially with the instructor and the main villain of the story.

The presentation aspect was very noticeably strong with the large screen that presented the world and introduced us to the overseer. The effects were strongly constructed to visually show us diagrams and maps, and then the effect of showing such a large image of the antagonist was striking. It immediately put a face to the evil in this show.

Also, the music and the sound effects were done really well. I was impressed by how well it was crafted to direct our emotions and add to the sci-fi elements.

I really enjoyed watching the players experience this show by being a part of it. They interacted with each other to overcome challenges and progress the story, which I’d never really experienced before. It was different and was, for the most part, pulled off well.

What I didn't like

It was unclear what the instructor’s role was. This is the character who pulls in audience members and interacts with the overseer. I couldn’t tell if he was a villain, or an ally, for the players. He seemed to be aligned with the oppressive cybernetic regime the players are combating, but then would end up helping, so that aspect was slightly confusing.

I believe a separate character, possibly the one clearly fighting for the revolution, the one “behind the scenes” speaking to the players and audience who we don’t see, could’ve played this role instead. He’s clearly a friend who is fighting for what’s right. I believe if he and the instructor had some back-and-forth dialogue, it would reinforce what’s at stake and where the lines are drawn. He could even “hack into the system”: to be able to deliver helpful hints to the players when they’re stumped.

The challenges were done well, however the last one (when the main villain takes on a new form that the players must defeat) feels very anticlimactic. Especially since only one of the players seems to really have anything to do, and that’s holding the gun and shooting at the overseer at the correct time. Because there’s always three players on stage at a time, and there’s only one weapon, the other two players don’t have many options to occupy their time except step out of the way. That becomes noticeable to the audience when they realize time is dragging on and the stakes aren’t really raised enough, so it ends up pulling you out of the immersion. I think more work needs to be done to involve everyone on stage at this point in the story, or maybe give a different, unique role to each one somehow.

In the end, once the mission is accomplished, although we (the audience) get the credits, it was tough to tell if the show had really ended or not.

Last thing, and this is very minor: I didn’t understand what our self-portraits had to do with the show, in the end. It was stated on the “immigration form” to choose carefully, or something along those lines, as the self-portrait would determine how the show played out. I felt like that wasn’t the case, however, or at least I don’t see how it could have a role.

My overall impression

This is a great example of art and improvisation, as each show must be its own thing with the various people you end up with on stage who all behave differently. It definitely pulls off the ‘show’ aspect by acting as a hybrid of various forms of entertainment.

It falls short on complete immersion in a few awkward spots, but when you look at the experience as a whole and understand the various levels of production that went into it, you can’t help but feel impressed at what the creators pulled off.

I look forward to seeing what else these artists create in the future. They are all still early in their careers, which is so promising to realize when you watch this show. It’s clear they will only continue to progress from this point on, towards what? That’s what I’m excited to find out.

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