A month ago, I received a rather undetailed invitation to the preview of a new immersive theater experience in Long Island City called RED (pronounced READY). A sucker for art that focuses on yours truly (i.e., the spectator), I wholeheartedly agreed to serve as the guinea pig at one of the first showings.
Set up in a warehouse in a yet-to-be-developed part of Long Island City, a fact that aids in donning an air of obscurity to the entire production, RED markets itself as a “transformative survival adventure where guests are immersed in an apocalyptic story, interact with real actors and special effects and work together to complete an objective.”
Part escape room, part real-life video game and part interactive theater event, the experience kicks off in a makeshift post-apocalypse world (a rather petrifying scenario) in which participants are asked to survive for 75 minutes. The only directions? Help your fellow survivors, find food, water and equipment, and stay informed.
The scope of the storytelling is quite impressive: The show doesn’t feature a pre-determined middle and end but evolves depending on the choices that participants make throughout, supposedly involving over 15 possible endings. As the staff watches your every move from a control room (there are cameras everywhere), actors join participants to propel the game forward.
RED’s mission focuses on a single question: How would you act if you found yourself at the edge of the end of the world?
Developed by husband-and-wife Daniel Gomez and Dr. Johanna Gomez (him a US army veteran and special operations scenario designer and her a resilience counselor), RED clearly boasts army-influenced undertones to mimic a do-or-die scenario. And, these days, learning how to survive a possible apocalypse feels like a rather important task to master.