Hollywood Fringe 2018
Immersive escape adventure, inspired by T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”.
In a not-too-distant future, residents are being selected by the Queen’s public lottery to escape a life of fear and join the thriving Unreal City. One of those residents is you. Taking inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Unreal City is a hypnotically immersive and interactive entertainment spread out across the streets of Theater Row that locks you into a different world, albeit on familiar territory.
The audience is corralled at a meeting point and led to the Unreal City where they’re split up into groups to follow one of four “Hollow Men,” only three of which are supposed to be trusted, and from there, many possible journeys await each individual audience member. It wouldn’t enhance your experience for me to reveal too many details but….. my journey included some military-style marching with Gus the Cat (Eric Geller) and a meeting with the foul-tempered queen (Stasha Surdyke) who turned out to be quite cordial with my group after we handed her pieces of trash as gifts. Apparently, I missed out things like a car ride with a film noir-ish cabbie, a violent struggle between a rebel and a government stooge, and a moment of forbidden intimacy in some alley.
Creators Tiffany Asta and Kristen Boulé clearly put a lot of detailed thought into the logistics to make this show’s many journeys sync up and they could be commended for that alone. Some aspects work well (figuring out riddles and puzzles), others not so much (spotty video chat conversations at low volume), but it was a preview performance and any technical glitches can be easily forgiven considering the stage spans multiple blocks in Hollywood.Between the poetic verse and the mysterious aura, Unreal City pulls off the neat trick of making a familiar neighborhood feel like a wholly different and disturbing place. Don’t worry if you get lost; you’re meant to. Immerse yourself, and wear comfortable shoes. ZACHARY BERNSTEIN.