Kansas Collection – Chapter Five: The Vow

In the Kansas Collection, the Speakeasy Society has taken L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz novels and brought them to life in an ARG (alternate-reality game) – an immersive experience driven by each guest’s decisions. Taking place in Kansas after the whirlwind adventures of Dorothy Gale, control of a dying Oz is at stake. In the latest chapter, The Vow, guests are invited to the wedding of The Scarecrow King and Phoebe Daring, where allegiances are tested and tragedy is inevitable.

The Vow is the fifth, and most elaborate, chapter in the series, with a bigger cast, more guests, and lasting almost two hours. To catch up, read my reviews of Chapter One: The KeyChapter Two: The AxeChapter Three: The Door and Chapter Four: The Invitation.

There’s a jewel in the city
And it shines with beauty, bright.
It has to be protected
So we all must join the fight.

When registering to attend The Vow, guests have to make a choice about which Oz faction they are loyal to: The Scarecrow King (wearing green), Ozma (black), REVOLT (blue) or Patchwork (red). The Vow also has an option for newbies who missed the previous chapters to jump into the fray (wearing white). The colors helped dictate which of the numerous tracks guests would take during the course of the intense and enlightening night ahead.

Beginning with a casual reception offering light refreshments, The Vow allowed guests to chat between themselves and with the characters also attending the party. There were one-on-ones, where secret missions were assigned; smaller group interactions, illuminating more of a character’s backstory; and larger, more theatrical, presentations meant for all to see. But the reception was not all pleasantries. During this seemingly innocent and fun celebration, seeds of dissent were made known; the word “traitor” was hissed to someone supporting a different faction, hidden behind a fake smile.

A drunken former Wizard of Oz, a stoic and robotic Dorothy, an undercover Jinjur… the night was only getting started.

There’s a jewel in the city
And it’s calling out for you.
There’s nothing it can ask
That I would hesitate to do.

With the tension growing, it was time for the main event: the wedding. Taking place in a real church, the wedding was beautiful but definitely unsettling. Sitting with peers from my chosen faction, I anxiously watched the crowd and strategically placed characters, waiting for something awful to happen. When the time came, what would I do? Would I be ready to do what I pledged earlier? Would I be able to make the “right” choice?

A flurry of activity disrupted the proceedings and sent the factions on their respective tracks, separated and each learning small snippets of the expansive narrative. As events unfolded and more information was doled out, I began to question my choices. Along with my fellow faction-member next to me, I found myself decidedly against what I was sworn to do. Whispering to each other, we wondered if there was any way we could stop the evil path that was unfurling before our eyes. However, before we knew it, the choice was out of our hands and a sense of dread washed over me. As we were ushered out, with promises of continuing the fight, the fate of Oz, and Kansas, looked dire. War was coming.

There’s a jewel in the city;
You must harken to its plea.
The call to arms has sounded
And the jewel belongs to me.

The Speakeasy Society has outdone themselves with The Vow. From the magnificent setting and fantastic improvisational actors to the sweeping narrative and truly moving characters, The Vow is a monumental success. And with the various tracks available to audiences, this is a chapter worth visiting again and again. I am completely invested in this story and these people, and the next chapter cannot come soon enough.

 

Get tickets for upcoming chapters here.

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