Archive for April, 2011

Analysis – Sensory Deprivation Theater (Sunday Morning at the Center of the World, Rotating in a Room of Images, And the Birds Fell from the Sky, London Snorkelling Team) – various venues

April 18, 2011

I realized Saturday afternoon that I’ve been doing a rather odd thing lately: I’ve been actively pursing theater that uses sensory deprivation as part of its gimmick. For two of these events, part of the Battersea Arts Center’s One on One festival (menu 5, “Immersive,” April 6, 2011), I wasn’t aware that I was going to be bumbling around in the dark in a room full of strangers; in the third (Sunday Morning at the Center of the World, Southwark Playhouse I was given the option of blindfold/no blindfold and chose the path of less visual insistence. I found the three of them … unusually stimulated my brain.

Let me explain. First, I am a bit of a control freak. Well, that’s not true, really, but letting strangers blindfold and touch me, putting myself in a situation where I can’t see who is coming toward me and yet know that they are there and they are going to interact with me, that is way out of my comfort zone. In fact, it makes me feel unsafe and a bit scared. But then, I do like having my boundaries pushed, and I see the One on One Festival as really enabling that, in an environment that’s safe enough … I think … that I could go with it. Mostly. At least I knew I wouldn’t get hurt. Probably.

Anyway, with Lundahl and Seitl’s “Rotating in a Room Full of Images,” I wasn’t actually blindfolded – I was in a pitch black room with headphones feeding me information. My eyes told me very little, and what my earphones said wasn’t always true … and I found myself listening harder, trying to pick up “real” noise that told me about my environment. I was also “listening” with my feet, which picked up vibrations from the wooden floor. This piece was often about there being people you couldn’t see near you – close enough to touch you – close enough for you to walk into if you just took two steps backwards. And this was creepy, because in pitch black you just could not tell they were there.

However, for much of the event, you were actually being led around very gently by the hand, and I had no sense of fear about the person who was holding my hand. It was a very trusting experience. They tugged me gently forward, I took steps into the dark. While the occasional lit bits of the event were certainly artistic, the real “experience” for me was letting go enough to be able to follow a total stranger when you could not see a thing anywhere. And I loved trying to expand my senses to “feel” the room, whether it was big or small or … the whole thing was probably only ten minutes but it felt like it went on for ages. It was cool.

I was kind of prepped for it in a way by Il Pixel Rosso’s “And the Birds Fell from the Sky.” It forced me to give up my desire to see my environment almost immediately, as it involved putting on goggles and headphones, making me feel even more isolated from what was going on around me than “Room Full of Images.” But “Birds” had a different goal: it wanted you to experience a world that was not there. I had to have trust to follow the person who walked me to my “car,” but after that I was mostly just following instructions, reaching out my hand when told to (to take a note, to receive a gift), turning left and right. My fear of the world on the edges of my vision – and, indeed, in front of me – was erased, as the sensory overload of the video-playing goggles made my brain too busy to process that I was actually totally cut off from the world of my normal senses. I think that this was kind of natural, however, as the eyes are so much what people rely on; even knowing the movie being shown was totally not real (I was not in a car driven by insane clowns), I was able to relax into the experience, with the “performers” enhancing it with what I fondly think of as Smell-o-vision: misting alcohol at me when the clowns were drinking, some kind of perfume when the girl clown was close (I think), and some other things. Externally, I was cued to open air by a fan blowing a breeze at me and stepping onto a brushy, grass-like carpet, and I was able to take these on as part of the world of the movie I was in. Stepping away, I could see two other people on the same “journey,” while a performer carefully leaned over them and made sure that her misting came at just the right moment; it all seemed very tender, somehow.

This meant that two weeks later I was quite ready for “Sunday Morning at the Center of the World,” and when they asked “do you want to experience our radio play with a blindfold on” I readily said yes. This meant that as this poem-type-thing was read, I pictured the bath being taken from a few feet away, smelled the coffee, recoiled from the alley cat that brushed against my legs, and took the crackling noise I heard in the air to be two blue plastic bags floating overhead “on their way to Tooting Bec.” While there were actors present and many unblindfolded people watching them, I think I gained more than the “straight” audience did from being able to let my imagination create all of the images of the talking dead and the cursing sparrows and the evil cat that swatted at passers-by on its own. And I very much enjoyed the many gentle cues (including raindrops) the actors added in to make it all “real.” It all went on a bit long (and there wasn’t really any character development or plot, it was pretty much just a poem about a Sunday morning in Earlsfield), but I enjoyed it and found it all very rich, more so unsighted than it would have been otherwise.

Interestingly enough, just a few days later I saw what I thought was going to be a musical comedy but was in fact an imaginary radio show (“The Island”), in which the London Snorkelling Team pretended to be the rather sad and untalented guests of a backwater radio show. This was also very much an exercise of the imagination (as we were “moved through time” and witnessed a visit from God), but I loved the buy-in that what we were seeing was really supposed to be a radio show – it just put me in the right mood for all the rest of the silliness.

Overall, I find that in this set of shows, the more the performers moved away from technology, the richer the audience experience, though, for me, the experience of trust was just as important as the stimulation of my imagination. As several of these shows involved a very high actor to audience level (“Room” had about four people doing the show for just one little me), they are obviously not the wave of the future, but I found that stripping away my control and cutting down on the senses I could use was a great trigger for my imagination and rather freeing. I’m glad I was able to do these … but I don’t think you’ll be seeing me in a blindfold again unless we’re playing Pin The Tail on the Donkey.

Advertisements

Review – The Blue God – Kremlin Ballet Theater 2011 Diaghilev Festival at London Coliseum

April 13, 2011

There’s a joke making its way around the internet lately, about the Lion of Gripsholm Castle, which is, basically, a lion that was taxidermied by a man who had never seen one before. The results are hilarious – it has big, forward facing monkey eyes, and square teeth that look especially fetching in this photoshopped image.

This, my beloveds, is the sum result of the misguided attempt to “recreate” The Blue God without benefit of its original music or even a scrap of the choreography. It is a dead skin that makes a joke of the original. Working off of costume and set designs and some pictures, the missing movement reimagined as an evening of pointless dancing and canned emotion, the Diaghilev festival sullied the Coliseum’s stage with the creeping horror of a “Orientalist” silent movie – Alla Nazimova’s Salome with bonus green lasers. Wayne Eagling should be ashamed of himself for creating such a dull mess. At the same time, there’s no doubting the Kremlin Ballet Theater have a lot to answer for with the pathetically sloppy dancing of their “corpse de ballet:” cueing off each other, stumbling, and utterly failing to maintain unison. I was mortified. The “stars” in this show could not compensate for the inherent flaws of the entire presentation. I snuck off into the night at the interval, not wanting my many happy memories of the Firebird to be tainted by such amateurishness. Perfectly sewn Bakst designs simply are not enough to save this production from its inherent car-crash of badness. You may yearn to see the original, but I can promise you: if you want to maintain the dream of a gorgeous gesamtkusntwerk dance experience, keep well away from this toothless lion.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011. The Kremlin Ballet Theater’s Diaghilev Festival continues at the London Coliseum through Sunday April 17th; I’ll be skipping the rest of the productions in favor of getting caught up on my gardening.)

Review – The Tempest – Little Angel Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company at Little Angel Theatre

April 12, 2011

When the Little Angel Theater Twitter feed covered their work with the Royal Shakespeare Company in producing a child-friendly version of The Tempest, I pretty much ignored it – I don’t really like kid’s shows and I’m not one to travel to see shows (kiddy play, Stratford, whatever). However, my attitude changed when I saw that this show was being brought to London for presentation at the Little Angel’s home venue. I had really dismissed the show as being a throwaway to satisfy parents eager to entertain their tots (or a theater trying to prove it “reaches out” to their non-core audience), but the fact that the Little Angel thought it was good enough to put on their regular season made me think that maybe it was worth checking out and not just a case of them providing a bit of advice on “here’s how we do it.” Little A brings high production values to their shows, and, well, I had guests coming from out of town who needed entertainment on a Sunday night (as it happens the only time I could see it) and it was just opening … so I rolled the dice, bought three tickets, and took two Americans to see a puppet show on their one and only night of London theater.

I’m so glad I trusted my impulses and that they all worked together to encourage me to get tickets for this show. As it turns out, this was a full-blown coproduction of Little Angel and the Royal Shakespeare Company – it was not a “puppet” version of The Tempest (like I’d thought, and which my guests might not have liked), but a production in which two characters are done as puppets and all the rest performed by the tip-top actors of the RSC who are also manipulating puppets – and providing musical accompaniment, both sung and played. Really, I was quite impressed by what performing powerhouses these people were!

The two puppet characters in this show were Ariel and Caliban, which were actually great choices to portray in this way. Ariel was a tiny fairy, about 1 1/2 feet tall, who leaps and flies and stands on Prospero and generally behaves in ways you just couldn’t have done with an actual human actor. I pretty much ignored the person (people) who was (were) manipulating and speaking for Ariel and just focused on the puppet – a sign that the puppeteer actor people were doing a really good job! Caliban, meanwhile, was a big, squat puppet monster (seen in the production photos), and could possibly have been just as well done as a human – but I enjoyed his otherworldly qualities. In fact, with these two puppets, the world of magic that is at the heart of The Tempest came alive for me for the first time ever in a way that all-human productions just hadn’t managed to do. Prospero was a magician cavorting with spirits summoned from his books, and not just a human ruling over other humans of greater or lesser talents.

I was also just amazed by the quality of the acting, which was so much more powerful for being in a small space (Little A seats about 100 or so) – it was full-quality Shakespearean actors basically two feet away from you and really going for it. And the songs (which frequently form a part of the puppet shows here, and which I usually don’t care for) were well made, beautifully harmonized, and accompanied by some solid flute/violin/accordion (etc.) – and they added to the magical atmosphere. Ultimately, my complaints boiled down to “the love song was too soppy” and “Prospero’s brother looked like an escapee from Black Adder with his awful wig.” Really, I just thought the whole thing was great, I was completely sucked up from about minute two, and at the end I thought, “My God, did I really just pay 12 quid for that amazing show? This is what living in a country that provides real support for the arts means.” Which is what I told my visiting American friends, basically, that we see shows like this just by accident on our way home from buying groceries. But it’s not true; this show is actually very, very good. I’d say buy your ticket immediately if you’re thinking about it, because once the word gets out, there won’t be any more left.

(This review is for the 7PM show that took place on Sunday, April 10th, 2011. It continues through May 15th.)

Review – Moonlight – Donmar Theater

April 11, 2011

My first exposure to the incredible depth that can be found in the works of Harold Pinter came with the Donmar’s production of Old Times back in 2004. It was astounding; I felt like I’d finally found a playwright who respected his audience enough to not feel the need to tell them everything. This was a person who was writing for me, and if I found it hard going, well, it was my job to figure it out.

Since then I’ve been seeing Pinter plays as often as I can, not trying to see everything that is done but trying to see every play at least once. Thus, Moonlight was a ticket I bought automatically, as it’s a Pinter play I haven’t seen and, well, the Donmar, you know, they may have a style but this play firmly is in the middle of what they do well and was absolutely guaranteed to be a great production (not to mention deliciously affordable at £10 in the balcony). Excitingly for me, I recognized two of the actors from other shows, one (“the wife,” Deborah Findlay) from the fabulous John Gabriel Borkman (same role, different husband) in this same theater; the other (“the husband,” David Bradley) from the Tricycle’s Caretaker where he played the eponymous role: so funny to see him transformed from creepy old bum to semi-respectable asshole – somehow it seemed that it was all on a continuum of “life in Pinter” where one could just go from one state to another, much as one goes from “mother” to “grandmother” or possibly “serving wretch” depending on how the circumstances of your life change in the intervening years. But I digress.

So I’m sitting here now, writing this, wondering: what do I talk about, the production? The plot? The questions it left behind? It’s the third I’m most interested in, but I suspect only Pinter fanatics feel that way. The set is lovely, blues framed by a line of occasionally blinding white whose fading seemed a literal echo of Dylan Thomas’ “dying of the light” (against with Bradley spends the play raging); the sound design is sparse but gets special mention for use of the Cure’s “Love Cats” (first time I’ve heard a band from my wasted college years used in a show) in a throwaway moment. And the set, showing two different environments (a seedy flat, the bedroom of a well-to-do household) side by side is sparse and effective, a perfect accompaniment to the script, showing that the four main actors are both hopelessly intertwined with each other while emphasizing the chasm in their daily existences.

Overall, this seems to me to be a lesser Pinter play, if well done. Bradley is strong in the main role of the dying, hallucinating former civil servant who seems to revel in torturing his wife with his past excesses; Findlay neatly conveys long-term suffering tempered by the knowledge of her certain release from her husband’s foul mouth. But their two sons, who seem to be dole-funded layabouts who spend their days playing mind games with each other, don’t have clear roles in the show and seem disposable. Ultimately, they only really seem to matter in the scene where their mother takes her one solo action in the play; calling to their apartment to ask them to visit their dying father. In this we get our long, Pinteresque moment of silent and tension, as the phone rings and rings while the boys stare at it as if it were a terrorist buzzing their doorbell, finally answering, “Laundry service.” The mother attempts to get them to engage with her struggle, then breaks down into playing the game with them; showing her connection with them and emphasizing the uncrossable divide between them and their father.

It was a perfect moment, but in many ways the play might be even better if the sons (and their 20 or more minutes of stage time) were eliminated altogether and we just focused on the couple as they moved slowly toward death. The noticeable slowing at the end would disappear and we, the audience, would have a much tidier set of destroyed human beings to deal with. It seems to me the play was far more vibrant in the scenes in which the father and the wife argue about their lives together and what death means; when they are not the focus, it seems garbled. Though I know Pinter constructed this deliberately, still, this time he said too much; but I considered it a good evening out and rewarding viewing nonetheless.

(This review is for a preview performance of Moonlight that took place on Friday, April 8th, 2011. It continues through May 28th and looks to be sold out for the entire run.)

Review – Remembrance Day – Royal Court

April 7, 2011

The Royal Court stands top in my rankings of London theaters, as the place where one can just go ahead and buy a ticket to whatever show they’re doing and not really worry too much about whether or not one is going to have a good night at the theater. Of course, I’m prejudiced a bit by my love of new plays; but Royal Court shines because they have, in addition to a commitment to new works, a really good vetting process; so while the National produces lots of new shows, their success ratio is low (and they offend me by their heavy hand with their production values); and the Donmar goes for excellence but has lost most of its experimentalism. So when I saw that a show was coming up for which I had room in the schedule (and room in the budget), I went ahead and bought tickets for
Remembrance Day without more than glancing at the synopsis.

It’s a new play, though, so I’ll assume you may want to know a bit about it: like many of my favorite plays, it’s a family drama, about a conflict across generations (in this case between a father, Sasha – Michael Nardone – and his daughter, Anya – Ruby Bentall). The conflict is set in a highly political and very specific context – that of the Russians (this family) still living in modern Latvia – but the seems in no way bound much by time or place a la The Crucible and The Rhinoceros. Fascism, nationalism, political extremism and manipulation, families being fractured as the members become partisans … these topics are sadly universal and make the play greatly enjoyable even if you’re completely ignorant about Latvia.

In this storm of emotion and rhetoric we have some richly drawn characters that speak well to Aleksey Scherbak’s authorial skills, with the kind of details that take what could have been cartoons and make them into believable people. Old soldier Paulis (Sam Kelly) has a bad temper but a strong affection for sausage; his fellow fighter Valdis (Ewan Hooper) can look on both his service to three different armies and his wrongful stint in the gulag (seven years!) with the distance age brings. Sasha starts out being gruff but reveals much stronger depths than needed; even his son “gimme some money” Lyosha (Iwan Rheon) has got is game going on. Glowering over all of them is the intensely burning brand that is Anya, who starts sweet and doe-eyed, hanging out with the adorable leader of the youth wing of the Russian political party, then slowly … well, changes. It’s the kind of evolution you can see many people making around the world while the cameras aren’t, completely believable, and … well, there was no hiding from the fact that this play wasn’t just specific to the problem that one small country is having right now.

The directing and acting are quite good. Bentall is occasionally just a little bit too fanatical for me, especially when she’s just staring at someone and not talking … it interrupted her believability. The political hacks (Luke Norris and Nick Court) spew out butter and bile with equal enthusiasm; I feel they weren’t meant to be entirely believable, more representatives of a certain mindset. Meanwhile, the old men made glaring the hamfisted acting of When We Are Married, showing what fine old actors can really do on stage: sparking as opposites on the ideological spectrum but also making it clear what held them together as friends. And Nardone eventually outshines the daughter as he believably struggles with extreme changes within his family, giving a performance that made me forget I was watching someone act. Meanwhile, director Michael Longhurst, if I’m reading the script correctly, has made a powerful point by interleaving Valdis’ and Sasha’s family’s apartments. They may be separate on paper, but in reality, these people who are spending so much time defining how different they are from each other have become completely intertwined in each other’s lives, and separating them seems no more possibly than removing one half of a human heart without killing the patient.

All of this intense emotion took place in about eighty-five minutes and has left me thinking about what happened for the past few days. The plot details may be irrelevant (and I’m not wanting to tell too much about it), but there is no doubt that as a portrait of how people move toward political extremism, this play is very powerful, and I suspect will be getting produced regularly after its debut wraps.

(This review is for a production that took place on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011. It continues through April 16th.)

Review – Umbrellas of Cherbourg – Kneehigh Theatre at the Gielgud

April 3, 2011

Given that Kneehigh produced my favorite show of 2008, Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, I was thrilled to hear that they were coming back to the West End with another movie adaptation, this time of the wonderful Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This movie, a marshmallow sky vision of life in France made in 1963 and starring the radiant Catherine Deneuve, is a cult classic that I adore for its color saturated settings as much as its sweet, all-sung dialogue and heartbreaking story of broken dreams. What would Kneehigh bring to this story? How would they change it? Was the movie strong enough to handle being remade? I was so excited I considered going up to Leicester to see it, but travel costs made it impossible; I would just wait until it opened in London.

However, prices as announced were, again, too high for me, Ms. Cheap Seats. I wanted to have a good experience, but £19.50 would only get me a side seat in the second balcony! £39.50 my absolute tops for a show, would get me the middle third of that same balcony, with front of second balcony going for £49.50! It was just, too, too expensive. LastMinute.com had only one deal (that I missed out on) and it wasn’t coming up on the TKTS half priced ticket booth – what was I going to do? I didn’t want to shell out £30 to sit in the last row of the entire theater way in the back. I didn’t know if it was the expenses of being on the West End, but my Umbrellas trip was being rained on. It was scheduled to run for about six months, though, so I figured after the newness wore off, something would happen.

Weeks passed. The show started previews. I couldn’t find any cheap seats. Finally, a first review appeared, a highly enthusiastic five wine glasses from the West End Whingers. Andrew even liked it so much he went again two nights later. I pencilled in a Friday two months later when I thought I just might be able to go. Then the old media reviews started coming in, and while they weren’t really negative, they lacked enthusiasm. I bided my time. Then … bad news … Twitter started telling a tale of half, even two-thirds empty houses. Suddenly, I realized, I had better go before it was too late. No one can keep running at a loss for month after month. I convinced my friend Jonathan to go for the £29.50 front row day seats and we finally made it on a Wednesday, the last week of March.

It was true – the Gielgud was deserted. We wandered in a theater that barely seemed to have a show happening at all. The lights dimmed a bit and we had a female cabaret star, with teased black hair, fishnets, and a skirts slit in the back and on the thigh, flirting with several sailors and explaining what kind of place Cherbourg was and teaching us some practical French. I don’t really know why Meow Meow was in the show or what it was Kneehigh thought she was required for, but there she was, full of personality and fun but, well, distracting. Finally the curtain went up and there was our tiny Cherbourg, cute little models on stage. Then a boy and a girl puppet came out and had a cute romantic moment … then it all flew away and the musical really got down to it.

It’s a show … about a boy. And about a girl. And about being young, and falling in love. And about parents who don’t support you when you’re in love, and about passion, and excitement, and how boring work can be, and about enthusiasm and joy and optimism – promising to spend your life with someone and meaning it, not having enough “history” to be jaded. Carly Bawden was as lovely and self-possesed and youthful as I could have hoped for in a Genevieve – utterly believable as a girl with stars in her eyes who is clear about what she wants in life. Andrew Durand had just the right feel for Guy, utterly in love with his girl, not worried about the future because it’s all so clear when you’re in love. And there is singing, and there are girls in beautiful gem-colored dresses (my favorite being Cynthia Erivo with her fantastic voice), and there are bikes being ridden around on stage and slides to go down and simple sets and a live band and so much life, life, life on stage. Life is exciting, and it’s meant to be sung, and Umbrellas embraces this.

And … do you know what happens? I can’t bear to tell you. Umbrellas isn’t tragic in a Romeo and Juliet kind of way; like Genevieve’s mom says (I think), people only die of love in the movies. This show is heartbreaking because, well, it’s about two people learning how love just really isn’t enough, when it comes right down to it. But far be it from me to explain to you how, or why, but I do promise that at the end you will feel your heart breaking with all of the disappointments ever felt by the teenager inside you.

I was left pondering just what it was that had kept this musical from attracting the audience it deserved. I think some people just don’t like this style of musical, even though the music itself was wholly superior to Love Story and Ordinary Days (though the lyrics were rather simple, keeping with the original as I recall). My guess is this show might have been better if the Meow Meow bit were cut entirely and it was just a straight ninety minutes without an interval – given that it already starts at 8PM, this would be a natural move and help the show be more focused. Nothing could really be done about the electricity missing from the performers; they acted as if they were expecting bad news any minute, and it came on Friday, as the shows early closing (in May) hit them at the end of the night.

But I think there is more to this, and maybe it’s just not about the cost of the tickets, but more about misjudging the appetite for this story. As Tim Watson said to me after we finished up the April third edition of the As Yet Unnamed London Theater Podcast, the previous shows Kneehigh did on the West End were well loved movies with a strong British tradition; Umbrellas really is a cult favorite and very French. It’s a pity it didn’t succeed here, but it’s still a good show. Catch it while you can.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Umbrellas continues through May 21st.)

Review – 2011 One on One Festival, Challenging Menu – Battersea Arts Centre

April 1, 2011

My number one arts experience of 2010 was the One on One festival at Battersea Arts Center, so when they announced they were doing it again in 2011, I was beating down the (internet) door as soon as tickets went on sale. This time rather than picking one thing you want to see and a few maybes, you picked off of menus. I avoided the one I’d done before (with Free by Ansuman Biswas) and instead picked a menu with a group that had received a lot of good press in the past.

I’ve been thinking about what to write about this event and I’ve decided that I can’t, in the middle of the run, talk too explicitly about the performances lest I ruin the element of surprise. Instead, I want to talk about how I felt during the event. This is about what I experienced internally rather than what I saw and did.

I approached the whole thing with a series of fun and (as I saw it) a lack of expectations other than that I wasn’t likely to be physically hurt. During the course of the three performances on my “meal card,” I wound up experiencing trust being built and then played with, social norms flouted and updended, and reality warped. I also lived through a performance that hit one of my biggest phobias, which was especially hair raising because I had had an hour long gap between it and my previous performance and had killed time visiting with other people (mostly total strangers) at the bar and was soused and rather more emotional than usual. Note to actress: no, I don’t usually sit on top of chests of drawers, but it seemed like the right place to be at the time.

What I found most interesting about this night was that it messed with my perception of reality. I was not alone in this; I talked to several other audience members who participated in one of the pieces I did and they all were questioning what had really happened. Had they just made a friend? Had they found a lover? Had they been betrayed? I was surprised they thought that anything had gone on besides a predetermined interaction between an audience member and an actor; the reality of what the actor said was non-existent, as they were “acting.” Those who thought they had made a connection with the person underneath the actor were mistaken; our reactions were just as predetermined as their actions.

But in the intimate setting of the One on One festival it is hard to tell the difference. This sense of confusion, of something “real” happening, was heady; but it made me wonder: was this actually unethical theater? We were paying to feel something, but I couldn’t help but feel that if the creation of an emotion or connection between an actor and an audience member was done so effectively that people, say, wanted to wait afterwards to talk to the performer to see if they “meant it,” the performance, and performer, was walking a dangerous line. Ontroerend Goed, Ansuman Biswas, you may be in dangerous territory.

As for me, well, I like dangerous territory, and I did, of course, choose the menus marked as most extreme. I’m not afraid to be personally challenged and I have a pretty clear idea of where the line is drawn between myself and a performer. I still find it really unpleasant to be in a situation where a childhood fear of mine is the center of the experience, but I was willing to let myself be kidnapped (if unsuccessful – I note someone else who was screamed as her “assailants” hooded her). I also very much liked how the organizers set this up so it wasn’t a “one”ly festival – it was, in fact, very focused on getting the audience members, who saw most things by themselves, to interact afterwards, what with the badges saying what you’d been to and then the addition of new games that try to nudge you to play with strangers. Overall, it was a great experience, one I highly recommend, though you will get out of it what you bring to it. Me, I will be bringing myself back next week – it was so good I had to try it all over again.