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Review: The Colorful, Emotional, Immersive Theater Of Alone
By Abel Horwitz
This weekend ALONE opens its first of four shows of 2015 with “The Index of Diffusion”. ALONE, as always, excels at creating beautiful experiences. Experiences that play with lights, sounds and colors in wonderful ways. Rainbows play heavily in the theme, and it seems that this will continue throughout the season: In August they will bring us “Refraction”, September “Reflection” and in October they will conclude (so we have been told) with “Absorption”.
Each is a little bit designed to push you just a little bit further down their rabbit hole.
The challenge in reviewing a show such as ALONE is that there is no plotline to speak of. Words, in this case, can only describe the individual experience that I had, and trying to interpret what I experienced perhaps isn’t the point of what they are doing. (SPOILER ALERT: if you plan to attend this weekend, note that this review contains spoilers insomuch as that's possible without a plot.)
ALONE’s intention is to disorient. To make their participants feel and react to their project. Any reaction one has is correct, just as long as you feel something. Each point in your journey into their world is designed around feelings. Some of their rooms exist to provoke anxiety, others to provoke celebration and elation. There are rooms in which you are pushed around and given instructions you’re not quite sure what to do with. Rooms that make you feel vulnerable. Angry. Relieved.
For those looking for Halloween frights you won’t find them in “Diffusion”. For those hoping for something closer to a traditional play, where the audience exists as observers but not participants, I would suggest finding a different show. There’s a little bit of both inside, but it falls decidedly in between the two worlds.
You will crawl at points. You will walk down darkened hallways. You will be encouraged to try on costumes, wear masks and dance on tables. You will be spoken to directly. Your face will be touched. You will be disoriented and confused and led around by strangers in the dark—sometimes very gently, other times with aggression, as they ask you questions you’re not quite sure how to answer.
You will sit and observe at times. You will wait patiently and think about crowd control and a famous play you probably last read in high school. You will wonder if you’re missing out on bits of the show depending on who grabs you, how long you spend in each room, and where in each room you are placed.
But overall, the best way to experience ALONE is to simply let go and embrace whatever comes your way.
If I can spoil anything about this “experience” it's that you will live to tell the tale. Afterwards you will stand outside with your friends and those you met inside and try to describe what it was exactly that you saw, or did, or what you were told. They will recount similar but not identical stories back to you. This is the pleasure and the pain of immersive theater: Everyone gets a slightly different show.
There are still three more shows to go. All, I am certain, will interweave with each other. Themes will be revisited, moments repeated under different context.
This weekend is the appetizer. There are still three courses left.
“The Index of Diffusion” runs tonight and tomorrow at an undisclosed location in Hollywood. Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the door (if not sold out, and if you can find it). Tickets and information about future events can be found at here, and by following them on Twitter @aloneexperience.