When Skies Are Gray

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

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BONNIE SLUDIKOFF certified reviewer June 04, 2018
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 ... full review
RUTH FOWLER certified reviewer June 09, 2018
Everything about this production was brilliantly and lovingly thought out. The space - the tiny Kansas room in Thymele, lit by eerie strip lights and decked out with a simple mattress while music which sounded like someone's last breath played softly as the audience walked in. From the limited numbers of seats, to the email I received from 'Head Nurse' the evening before the experience, this was really an incredible, and difficult, production to witness and participate in. Coming straight from several enormous, lavish productions at some of the major theaters in town - productions that completely left me completely cold - it was so completely refreshing to be led into an experience which was focused, quiet, empathic and completely heartbreak... full review
AMY RAASCH certified reviewer June 24, 2018
tagged as: powerful · healing · immersive · ritual
"When Skies Are Gray" is more than theatre. It is a ritual for the most universal of human experiences: death. With deep care and unflinching bravery, Ashley Steed relives her mother's final days in hospice mere feet before our eyes. Bone-deep performances by Steed and the astonishing Melissa Randel confront us with the primal anguish that is not only leaving this life, but leaving each other. By play's end, we have no choice but to have lived through our own grief, fear, helplessness, and ultimately, longing for love and connection as deep as that which Ashley and her mother clearly share.... full review
RUSSELL EATON certified reviewer June 25, 2018
This is an incredibly effective, emotional piece of theater. The story is told in snippets as a daughter visits her dying mother in hospice care. The simple structure makes the situation feel harshly authentic and invites the audience to relate the process to their own experiences. By the end, this feels less like a play and more like an actual real-life experience. There is no simple, strong narrative that unfolds here. You get glimpses into these women’s lives as days pass one by one. The focus is on the process of death which is unpredictable and sometimes complicated. ... full review
MARK HEIN certified reviewer June 04, 2018
tagged as: unique · powerful · spare · harrowing · gentle
In a brief hour in this small room, Steed’s artwork takes us far, on journeys deep into our own lives — our fiercest loves and losses, our unspoken fears, our regrets. Ghosts fill the space, charging the air with emotion and meaning. We are fortunate to have this “professional make believer” (as Steed describes herself) making her art in our city. And fortunate that she can find such fine collaborators. An experience like no other at Fringe. Or anywhere.... full review
KATIE LINDSAY certified reviewer June 06, 2018
Ashley has created a gorgeous performance piece about the physical aspects of dying and grief. I was incredibly moved by the performances, especially by Melissa Randel's portrayal of the mother. Ashley uses the ritual of live performance to invite us into her grieving process. The use of real recordings and the knowledge that the performance is based on Ashley's experience makes the intimacy feel real, and not forced. I feel honored to have been trusted with such a profound moment in her life. It moved me to think about my own experiences with death and hospice, an experience I often want to bury but that was cathartic to reconnect to. ... full review
KAT PRIMEAU certified reviewer June 09, 2018
tagged as: amazing · Beautiful · cathartic · exemplary · Must See
One of the best shows I've seen in 9 years at Hollywood Fringe, and a Top 10 Theatrical Experience of my lifetime, for sure. Steed could teach a masterclass in making the personal universal. This show embraces the theatrical medium at its highest potential, creating a truly visceral, cathartic, and invigorating experience. I wish more creators could witness and be inspired by the piece, and hope they find a supportive home for an extended run beyond the festival. ... full review
DEBRIANNA MANSINI certified reviewer June 10, 2018
a loving tribute to a mom's passing, something we will all experience in one way or another. ... full review
LUCY GILLESPIE certified reviewer June 11, 2018
tagged as: poignant · bittersweet · family · Well Crafted
The poignancy and urgency of this harrowing immersive piece hit hardest in the most mundane moments: monotonous, clinical voicemails, funeral arrangements, pudding, walks, pain relief. Less of a "production" and more of a reminder that love and life is a string of tiny, meaningless moments; and that those who take care of you--friends, family, nurses, coincidental bystanders--are your people to hold close. ... full review
ANDY JONES-LIANG certified reviewer June 13, 2018
This was my first experience with immersive theatre, and what a profound first experience this was. Ashley has created a space for the audience to work through the grieving process alongside the mother & daughter characters, and to reflect on how we work through grief in our own lives. This was an unflinching look at the slow, arduous process of losing a loved one, and while it was uncomfortable, it was also done with so much tenderness and respect. We were in tears at the end. When the lights came up, there was a moment where the audience stayed seated, taking that moment to process in silence. We looked at each other as if to say, "What now?" It was that sort of effect, that contemplation on how we sit within grief, how we move on from it ... full review