|Photo Credit: Suspicious Package|
Suspicious Package has been labeled an "interactive iPod noir play" and has something to say about the new-wave participatory theatre experience. This is a space where reality, technology and performance all collide.
The play has been adapted for audiences of four or six and unlike other immersive work, this is a play where as an audience member you are given the opportunity to play one of the characters in the play.
Upon arrival you are given a character, a costume and a Microsoft Zune Media Player. The mp3 player acts as your guide through the 45-minute tour around a block of Pittsburgh's cultural district. Each guide plays a character-specific audiovisual file complete with directions around the neighborhood, flashbacks that provide the necessary exposition, and of course a script to be read by you, the actor -- all underscored by an appropriately melodramatic score.
The event's plot focuses around a showgirl's sickness. Is she faking ill to get out of a constricting contract? Is someone after her starring role? Or is it something more convoluted? It's your job as either the glamourous showgirl. clever producer, smart detective or primadonna heiress to get to the bottom of the case or to get out unscathed. The six-part version also includes a nosy reporter and a quack doctor, extending the event through another unexpected twist.
When I was taking my interactive tour around a block I thought I knew, it seemed a little different to me. Maybe it was my detective hat or the music coming through my headphones but this play literally took me to another time and place. I was immediately more aware of certain things and other peoples, whether they were playing characters or not.
No one should stray away from this play just because they have to read some lines. My friends have used this as their excuse for not attending but they will regret it. Yes, you read some lines, but it's one on one with another person who's also reading lines that they have never seen before. Nobody's perfect and that is part of the fun of whole event.
That's the greatest thing about this play. It's fun. You get to stalk around, hiding in bookstores, attending secret meetings and live out a noir tale.
Tickets are $25.00 and include the price of a drink for you to enjoy afterwards as you talk about your experiences with your fellow cast-mates. (Tickets can be purchased here). Showtimes are October 11, 12, 13, 14 at 1, 2, 3, 4pm.
Considering the nature of this event, I am most interested in how you make sense of an evening like this. What is going on in your head as you navigate through the arsenal of information being fired your way from your audiovisual file, the other characters, the outside world, the architecture around you, etc.? If you do end up attending a performance of Suspicious Package please feel free to share your experiences, good or bad, here in the comment section below.