The Cast: excellent and very well placed in both their goals, purpose and motivations. It’s very hard to talk specifics about this show without giving anything away—but suffice it to say that everyone there is there for a very good reason and there wasn’t a single person involved who I didn’t end up “buying” as who they were supposed to be.
The Experience: There is something disconcerting about how they’ve set up this particular experience that I found to be extremely effective, especially during one 6-minute point in the process. Trying to accomplish an experience that is both solitary, group and in public all at the same time is a brave goal and for the most part, they’ve succeeded admirably.
The World: This was a scenario that sat with me for the rest of the night and that I came back to even as I was watching other shows later. That’s a testament to what they were trying to build—something that I couldn’t simply shake after it was done. That’s very impressive, especially in a busy premise like Fringe.
What I didn't like
The Technology: There are severe limitations to what they are able to do given both the premise and the real-world limitations required to do something like this. I completely understood what was going to be the problem immediately. That being said, because OF those limitations, the technology was an inherent issue throughout the experience. Sometimes it failed. Sometimes people were unable to stay equally ‘connected’ with each other’s time-frames (again, I’m trying to avoid spoiling things here). And the technology iwas forced to be made an ongoing part of the story itself—which for me, at least, drew me out of the world and story nearly every time an actor/character pointedly referenced the technology in my hand. I don’t know how I would have solved this problem—or if I could have—but this limitation was tough.
The Story: Because the world was so interesting and I kept coming back to it, a few plot holes became clear to me as the night wore on. Ultimately, I wish there had been a touch more depth to some of the characters within the experience. Perhaps that’s part of the point of the experience (there is sort of a moral within the story that may touch on why I might feel this way), but it ended up feeling less like part of the point and more like a desire for me to have a little more complete of a tale. This is minor quibbling, however, because the overall world is VERY compelling, indeed.
My overall impression
Why do I love Fringe? Sure, there are one-man/woman shows, comedies, musicals galore. And they’re often dynamite, fantastic and genius. But every once in a while, something comes along that REALLY tries to be different, unique, strange and unusual.
This year, you’re already part of one of those. Because Shine Labs has been quietly watching you from the shadows—and you’re a perfect candidate to learn “The Truth”. All you need to do is accept your chance to be a test subject during this year’s Fringe festival and off you go.
Really, that’s all I want to tell you about this particular experience. I mean, yes, it’s theater—sort of. It’s really a lot more than that. It’s sort of a LARP (Live Action Role Play) experience. It’s sort of a walking tour around the Santa Monica Theater Row. It’s sort of a strange mind-trip where you can find yourself (like I did) standing on a street corner, watching an actor dancing to music while listening to her tell a terribly sad story about her past AND knowing at the same moment that:
The two dudes walking to the gym right beside you couldn’t hear either the music OR what the woman was telling you
The guy recording the woman dancing had no idea why he was doing so
The person who had just yelled out of the car driving behind you MIGHT or MIGHTNOT have been actually doing so—it might just have been in your head
Yeah, it’s THAT kind of experience.
Because The Truth is one that you can only learn directly.
But it’s one every one should learn—and as fast as possible. In fact, it’s one I’m very seriously contemplating going back to learn again.