Hollywood Fringe Festival has always been a welcome home for the experimental, for new approaches to narrative, for ideas and concepts that push the envelope; it’s the very definition of “fringe” theatre. Entered into this encouraging atmosphere for 2018’s festival is Snow Fridge, the collaborative, improvisational and surrealist piece from Karlie Blair and Keight Leighn.
Both veterans of the immersive theatre scene (The Lust Experience: Anointment, Safehouse ‘77, Apartment 8, and Covell, to name a few,) Blair and Leighn join with their cast of five similarly familiar and talented immersive performers to craft a personalized experience for each audience member. Snow Fridge exhilarates the senses and also manages to achieve what even heavily-scripted shows often fail to: it makes each participant feel the show is uniquely personalized for their benefit. Knowing that each show is never the same, I’d like to share some of my personal experience.
Before I spent my time in the Snow Fridge, I had to tell those inside it something about myself. Similarly, to explain the bizarre and profound effect Snow Fridge had on me, I think I need to tell you, the reader, something about myself:
There are times when I feel so disconnected, so outside myself, that I think I’ll forget to breathe. Like somehow if I keep the air out I’ll finally be able to disappear, to hide from myself.
I took this feeling with me into the Fridge, brought it inside and froze it up and felt it shatter and break away from me. I drew breath. I heard someone, or a dozen someones, saying “I love you.” My own voice doubled and tripled and echoed back to me. I love you.
It was as if I’d realized how many times I’ve said or heard the phrase and never believed it until now. I told the Fridge what I wanted to change, and it enveloped me inside it and pushed me back out, changed. I’d experienced a conveyor belt of thought and feeling, delivered through play, a smile, a gentle touch, and a slow dance.
It isn’t just that Karlie Blair and Keight Leighn have taken the time to understand each audience member, and they have; it’s that they’ve created a safe space for someone to understand themselves. Your show will be different than all the others because you are different than everyone else. Imagine a place, sitting on the border between dream and waking: a place wherein you can hear your own thoughts aloud, and finally just listen. That place exists, sixteen minutes at a time, in fits and spurts, in the basement of an historic Hollywood club, waiting for you to step inside. So come; your story has already begun, come find the next chapter. Fall at the feet of your own insecurities and stand back up again, fall in love with your flaws, fall into the Fridge.
What I didn't like
Audience members unfamiliar with improvisation or experimental theatre may feel overwhelmed, through no fault of the performers whatsoever.