The two Alices of THEN SHE FELL. Photo by Adam Jason Photography.
BOTTOM LINE: An inventive new interactive show for adventurous theatregoers.
Type-A's beware: you have to relinquish control at Then She Fell, a new interactive production taking place at the former Greenpoint Hospital and based on the classic twisted childhood tale, Alice in Wonderland. With a small audience of only 15, each audience member becomes a part of the show, and one-on-one interaction with the characters makes the experience very personal. Taking a cue from the uber-popular show Sleep No More, Then She Fell similarly lets audiences wander through the property, investigating rooms and goods and piecing together the story's fragmented plot. Unlike Sleep No More, which accommodates hundreds of people at a time and basically lets the audience loose, Then She Fell meticulously guides you through the space so you are always where you ought to be. There is a certain amount of trust that comes with that, and although the experience is active and disorienting, I felt very comfortable as I was led through the production. You are in good hands.
Full disclaimer here, the performance I attended was an invited dress rehearsal. Although the show seems like it's going to be remarkable (and many of the things I experienced were indeed interesting and entertaining), it's really hard to immerse yourself fully when a character points to a trunk labeled "electrical cords" and whispers "this is going to be a bench." Luckliy, I have a good imagination, and if the show comes together as intended, it will be a unique production well worth experiencing.
Then She Fell piques all of the senses, and after two hours within its walls you leave feeling hyper-aware. Sight: there is constantly something to observe whether actors, props, or your fellow audience members who sometimes share a room/scene with you; Sound: a bright soundscape shifts from bumping bass to ethereal tones furthering the "moodiness" of it all; Touch: there is much to pick up and play with as you investigate the rooms and sometimes the characters are so close to you that you can feel the fabric of their costumes or the softness of their skin as they lead you by hand to the next room; Taste: in this production you are offered food and drink at various times and all tastes are uniquely crafted for the event; Smell: aside from the specific smells of the edible items, your nose will notice various odors as you move throughout the space.
The specificity by which this production operates offers a precise audience experience. Although everyone gets something different out of the show (and everyone visits a different and incomplete set of rooms), audiences are sure to feel immersed within the production. This can be both good -- it's intensely satisfying to so completely experience a story -- and bad -- with your senses that heightened you're bound to notice the hiccups that might otherwise be masked if you weren't so damn aware of everything.
A little Sleep No More and a little haunted house, Then She Fell is a clever riff on site-specific work that is wholly compelling. The attractive cast committs completely to their fantastic roles, and with dance at the core of the performance, they maintain a great fluidity as they move (and move you) around the space. Director/designer Zach Morris takes great care with the audience experience and it's easy to trust such a skilled group of artists.
If you are uncomfortable letting your guard down, or if you prefer your theatre to be viewed from afar, this experience might prove to be a little too immersive. But daring theatregoers (or those who are looking for a unique experience) will likely be charmed by this Alice and Wonderland, which is certainly heavy on the wonder of live performance.
(Then She Fell plays at the former Greenpoint Hospital, 2 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn, near the Graham Avenue L stop, through January 6, 2013. Performances are Wednesdays through Sundays at 7:30PM with select late-night 10:30PM performances. For full schedule visit thirdrailprojects.com. Tickets are $65-$85 and are available at thenshefell.com. For more show info visit thenshefell.com.)