Kansas Collection – Chapter Eight: The Slippers
In the Kansas Collection, the Speakeasy Society has taken L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz novels and brought them to life in an immersive experience driven by each guest’s decisions. Taking placed in Kansas after the whirlwind adventures of Dorothy Gale, control of a dying Oz is at stake. After the devastating events of The Heart, the Patchwork resistance is in shambles and has to come up with a new plan of attack. Oscar (the former Wizard of Oz) thinks he is in possession of a game-changer, and needs our help getting the infamous slippers to Glinda and Phil Daring/Ozma.
The Winds are Changing
With The Slippers, the Speakeasy Society had the challenging task of following up one of their more intense and emotional chapters (The Heart). Embracing the tonal shift and giving audiences a chance to breathe, the rumpled and grumpy Oscar tells our small group of six not to dwell on Dorothy’s death, but band together to fix the wrongs we had helped create in this world, and in Oz. Helping him get Dorothy’s slippers to Glinda is a step in the right direction; she might know how to use them to defeat Phoebe Daring/Ozma.
It is dark and cold outside as we follow closely at Oscar’s heels, keeping an eye out for anyone suspicious – other than us, of course. We climb the stairs of a nondescript building and hear agitated voices from the other side of a closed door. A fellow guest and I are instructed to enter the room slowly and with our hands raised for our own safety. Inside, an angry Glinda and calm Phil discuss what their next step should be. Oscar, entering behind a barrier of other guests, proclaims that he might have the answer: Dorothy’s magical slippers.
Click Your Heels Together Three Times
Glinda and Phil ignore Oscar at first, getting distracted when a surprise visitor knocks on the door: the Lion. A character I’ve not previously interacted with, the Lion appears cheerful and nonchalant, perhaps slightly mischievous. Glinda pulls the Lion aside, along with half our group. The other half stays listening to Oscar and Phil’s conversation. Instead of having guests repeat after a character, a technique used in many previous chapters, Phil has us tell Oscar about Ozma’s return in our own words, filling in any details we might have missed – a more conversational, immersive interaction within the story that I really enjoyed.
When Glinda and the Lion return, Oscar hands over the locked box he had been toting around, hopefully containing the slippers. Solving a riddle I wish the audience could have participated in more (like in an escape room), Glinda opens the box and produces the legendary, shimmering, silver slippers. She tries them on but to no avail; she cannot use magic anymore. Oscar, bouncing an idea off Phil’s connection to Ozma, suggests Phil try on the slippers. A clever use of elementary magic has the slippers change from one pair of shoes fitting Glinda to another to suit Phil. Glinda walks Phil through the process of accessing magic, again to no avail. The slippers are placed back in the box.
At a loss for what to do, Glinda and Phil decide to see how Dorothy wants to proceed. They haven’t heard the news…
The Magic Within
Oscar has one of us tell Glinda and Phil what happened… “Dorothy’s dead. I’m sorry.”
This bombshell leaves Glinda and Phil reeling. Glinda gets into a shouting match with Oscar as Phil curls up in the corner. Phil’s emotional state explodes, freezing Glinda and Oscar in their tracks and shorting out the lights. Phil can do magic. Without the slippers. Walking us through his thought process when he accessed magic, Phil finds that place within himself once again and unfreezes his comrades. This is definitely going to change things.
As we look around to assess the room, it becomes clear that the Lion fled in the darkness – and took the slippers with her.
The small cast of The Slippers – Matthew Bamberg-Johnson (Phil), Natalie Fryman (Glinda), John McCormick (Oscar), Jessica Rosilyn (the Lion) – remains as strong and vibrant as ever, guiding the narrative pieces slowly and expertly to a climax. The use of simple sleight-of-hand and well-timed magic tricks add to the wonder and fantastical elements of the story; a little bit of magic from Oz has found its way into “Kansas.” The Speakeasy Society wisely crafts their 10-chapter saga with breaks from the emotionally challenging chapters; The Slippers ends up lighter in tone than Chapter Seven, but still resonates and surprises with its new revelations. Now, with a new secret weapon in Patchwork’s arsenal, I can’t help but wonder how everything will play out; I feel like there is so much more to this rich story. Literally the calm before The Storm (the upcoming Chapter Nine), The Slippers deftly sets up the major conflict to come…