One Act: 45-60mins. A phone call (available worldwide), meant to be taken alone. All times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.
First off a brief explanation of who the Candle House Collective are. They’re an “NYC/ Chicago-based experimental theatre company specializing in remote immersive experiences”, but these are no fly-by-night theatre company reacting to our present predicament, they’ve been creating work such as this since 2018! For once, there is no mention of zoom or any other online communication service, this experience takes place over the telephone. The company recommend you find a small, enclosed space to experience the work, somewhere you can be alone and undisturbed, preferably a closet or bathroom. It’s obvious that they want the audience member to be away from the outside world and fully immersed in the event.
The experience is almost an hour-long, in which time you’ll be one to one with the actor. The piece is fully interactive and you’re required to talk to the actor on a continual basis. Some of the experience is scripted whereas other moments are improvised and based on the response from the audience member. This makes the experience feel freeform and adds a touch of randomness to the experience.
The event also comes with a safe word which will end the experience and can be used by the audience member or the actor involved. This has a somewhat intimidating effect and hints that the performance will delve deep into matters you’re not used to discussing with a perfect stranger, but in all honestly, there was nothing particularly intrusive about the questions asked or the performance.
You may have noticed this review hasn’t mentioned any details of the script! This is due to the theatre company not even hinting at what is involved in their programme or on their website. It is best to hear the performance with no prior knowledge of what is about to ensue, so we’ll leave it at that. The script is slightly absurd in nature and has the feel of the work of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. There are many comedic moments that will have you giggling and laughing along with the actor and it is good-natured rather than adversarial. Expect to be taken far outside your bathroom and have one of life’s great mysteries revealed to you.
The economics of theatre at a one to one basis are challenging to say the least and it is reflected in the price. Although there is no set or extensive team required behind the scenes, the development of the script must have taken many months. Katy Murphy is your ‘caseworker’ for the event and she is highly polished, forging ahead regardless of whatever obstacles the audience member throws in front of her. This is probably the most successful remote theatrical experience that I have attended. Over the last few months, there has been a multitude of zoom calls and other events as the world of theatre scrambles to find its feet. This felt inventive and fresh, allowing a level of intimacy that is rarely found. Other theatre companies need to take note, as the theatres remain closed for the foreseeable future a degree of reinvention may be required. Candle House Collective are at the forefront of this change.
Cast and Crew:
Featuring Katy Murphy as your Caseworker
Created by Evan Neiden
Directed by John Ertman
Logistics by Kevin Garcia