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When Skies Are Gray

immersive theatre · the visceral city project · Ages 18+ · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by BONNIE SLUDIKOFF

June 04, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

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What I didn't like

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My overall impression

A truly immersive experience unlike anything else, maybe even in the whole world. I recommending going in with an open mind and not thinking about it as “going to a show.” This is admittedly not a “light and fun girl’s/guys night out” nor is it supposed to be.

I feel like I see a lot of theatre in LA that doesn’t understand its identity – this piece knows itself and that helps you feel at ease as an audience member- you are plunged into a very sad and frustrating and somber experience, and don’t get me wrong-that’s great. (It’s like an hour, you’ll be fine!)

In a way it’s like a weird empathy building exercise- I think there’s a lot of potential educational value for this piece- it’s part “..is this even theatre” and part “wow, this is the most theater-theatre I’ve ever experienced” and if you’ve spent any time in hospitals as a patient or visitor, you may relate.

Note: if you have had to watch a parent be very sick (or die) be prepared to relive that a little cause the realities of that are captured in a blunt way- not without artistry, but in a very very realistic way- it’s raw and, “this is what this really looks like when this happens” and if that’s not for you, honestly. don’t go. Having watched a parent in the last stage and through death and watching the other come close to death at one point, I thought in advance about how this would make me feel- if my mom had not survived this show would have been too much, possibly even years later. That said, if you’re on the side of saying “hmmm I’ve never experienced watching my parent be sick” this is a great opportunity to step into someone’s shoes, and also see some of the scary realities of aging, losing your independence to illness, etc… there’s a lot to learn here.

People are scared of immersive theatre and that makes me sad- I’m working on my own immersive show and I know that past shows have done a disservice to this beautiful and potentially transformational and life-enriching genre. Last year at fringe cabaret a friend got pulled up onstage for a blurb of some show I don’t remember the title of and she was treated in a way that bordered on sexual harassment and made all “volunteers” who had been more or less dragged onstage, very uncomfortable… – people do weird shit in shows sometimes. The reason I’m sharing that is, this show NAILS the immersive elements, treating audiences with the utmost respect, including those who are called upon to do some interactive tasks as “nurses.” I highly recommend signing up- I won’t give a spoiler alert other than to say it will be so “not about you” that you don’t need to worry and you’ll have. a richer experience for participating.

Pro Tip: Give yourself space to see this show- don’t do it at the end of a 5 show day. It’s a good standalone night of theatre or part of a shorter fringe day.

Pro Tip for professional reviewers or people who just have a lot to say: If you cant remember a thought about a 60 minute show, that thought probably doesn’t need to be in your review. the audience members are in close quarters during this show and it’s lame when one of the members of the small audience write through the entire thing.

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