Immersive Theater in NYC
A New York institution since 2011, Punchdrunk’s dark, sleek, gorgeous installation is awe-inspiring in both its size and detail. Silent audience members in creepy white masks are set free in a six-floor labyrinth of wonders, while roving attractive actor-dancers plays out enigmatic scenes inspired by Macbeth and Hitchcock. There are more than 90 different spaces to explore, ranging from a candy shop to a cemetery. There’s no way to absorb it all in a single visit, but that’s all right. You’ll want to go back anyhow.
Alison S.M. Kobayashi leads us on a journey to another time in her interactive multimedia docuplay, based on real 65-year-old audio recordings of a teenage boy in Queens and his family and neighbors. The experience of the show is light, sweet, funny and dear. But Kobayashi’s deep humanism has a way of moving you, even days later.
Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s nearly three-hour immersive play is based on their stint as volunteers with refugees in Calais, France, who were hoping to cross the Channel into England. It’s not artful as a piece of drama; rather, it’s a deliberate cacophony of voices. Co-directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin insist on roars of disapproval and protest at every turn. The play wants you to feel, for a moment, what it’s like to live each moment at a crisis point. It's impressive and at times virtuosic.—Helen Shaw
Third Rail Projects' interactive psych-ward riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, performed for just 15 people at a time on three floors of a church building in Williamsburg, uses a style similar to that of Sleep No More. But here, when you peer into the looking glass, it stares right back at you; the experiences offered by director-designer Zach Morris and his company are stunningly personal.
This imaginative Broadway revival of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s 1990 musical is constantly on the move to a steady throb of pop-Caribbean beats. Telling the story of a naive orphan who embarks on a forbidden romance with a boy above her station, Michael Arden’s immersive production sings, dances and conjures up a storm.
Spectators are bombarded with images from all sides in this ambitious immersive multimedia piece, devised by the performance collective Arcade and performed within a 360-degree projection cube. Set at a recovery center for people struggling with virtual addictions in a dystopian very-near future, the show draws inspiration from cultural theory as it investigates the impact of technology on our senses of ourselves, with special attention to queer identities. Lio Mehiel directs the ravey production. [Not yet reviewed.]
The mania for Peter Pan adaptations continues in this intimate adventure, conceived and directed by Rachel Garnet. Audiences wander through multiple rooms and encounter actors playing J.M Barrie and his beloved creations: an ageless boy, his Darling friends and the disabled sea captain who bedevils them. [Not yet reviewed.]
If food be the music of love, serve on! Dan Swern directs an immersive dinner-theater production of Shakespeare's comedy about noblemen who foreswear love for scholarship (only to be dragged back into the game by visiting French maidens) in an immersive production that includes an eight-course tasting menu that is prepared in front of the audience and served throughout the show. [Not yet reviewed.]
Powerhouse vocalist Nya makes a stunning nightlife queen in this campily fun immersive musical, which unabashedly values hedonism over history. Inebriated audiences are invited to party like it's Nineteen-Ninety-Nile as quiptastic Dusty Ray Bottoms emcees sexy interactive games and a sweaty multicultural chorus performs director-choreographer JT Horenstein's athletic moves. Your heart won't get touched, but there's a pretty good chance your body will be.
The Irish Rep presents a return engagement of its 2016 adaptation of James Joyce's short story about a holiday meal in Dublin, staged immersively at an intimate Upper East Side townhouse. Ciarán O'Reilly directs a script by Paul Muldoon and Jean Hanff Korelitz, with Melissa Gilbert and Rufus Collins in the central roles. Admission includes dinner and drinks.