Kansas Collection – Chapter Seven: The Heart
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 place in Kansas after the whirlwind adventures of Dorothy Gale, control of a dying Oz is at stake. In the latest chapter, The Heart, Dorothy has been kidnapped – by whom, we don’t know. Jack Pumpkinhead and Tik Tok have requested our help in finding the lost Dorothy, and I am so deeply invested in this narrative that I simply cannot refuse.
In this intimate chapter, Jack and Tik have requested the help of around six recruits; any more and we’d be too easy for Dorothy’s captors to spot, jeopardizing our rescue attempt. To catch up on the story thus far, find my reviews of Chapters One through Six here. The major plot points of The Heart will not be spoiled below.
“We cannot do it alone.”
It has been a few months since The Vow, and no one has seen Dorothy since. During that time, Tik Tok and Jack have been monitoring the portals between Kansas and Oz, and Tik believes he has finally found a lead. Jack, in an emergency broadcast sent to our emails, speaks directly to the recruits – us – and begs us to help them search for Dorothy.
On the designated night, the other recruits and I wait outside the rendezvous point for Jack and Tik. The time for our search has come. Jack and Tik instruct us to quietly keep an eye out for Dorothy, and we do – until we hear the menacing scraping of metal on the ground coming from around the corner. The Tin Man, dragging his axe, comes at us with his eyes ablaze, separating Tik and a fellow recruit from the rest of us, who are ordered to stand against the garage door. In a rigid line like misbehaved school children, we wait for the Tin Man to do his worst. But instead of turning his anger toward us, he reveals Dorothy, her hands tied to the chair in which she sits.
“I did what I had to do… to survive.”
What follows is an emotionally heated tête-à-tête during which we bear witness to admissions of betrayal, lies, selfishness, and unrequited love. We watch with increasing horror as the truth trickles out, bit by bit, twisting the knife slowly into the hearts of those in attendance.
The relentless questions are met with frustrating omissions and dishonesty, which finally give way to the truth, like a dam bursting from too much pressure. But once the truth comes out, tensions skyrocket, and the seams of friendship start unraveling. Characters reach their breaking point, and nothing will be the same again.
Choices have Consequences
We have spent six labyrinthine chapters with these characters, in this world, during which we have come to empathize, distrust, and form allegiances with them. In this seventh chapter, what we think we know about the classic story of the girl who got lost in Oz is chewed up and spat back out with ferociousness we’ve not yet seen. The strength of the actors is mind-blowing; as their emotions ebb and flow, they draw us in further, and leave us wounded and scarred when a sickening silence descends on the room.
Reality hits us as Jack hurries us out of the garage, all shell-shocked at what we have seen and heard. We follow after Jack, now quiet and defeated, into an alley. He stops us for a moment and asks a recruit if they could hug. I was sad it wasn’t me, because I wanted to hug Jack, too, after that emotional bombshell. I could see the reflection of his now-shattered world in his eyes, lost and devoid of hope. He quietly wishes us well and disappears into the night. But where do we go from here?
The Grand Scheme of Things…
With this shocking upheaval in the fight for Oz, I am left wondering where I stand. Who, now, has my allegiance? A heartbreaking chapter, for sure, The Heart gave all its talented players a chance to dig deep into the psyche of their characters and shine in quite emotional scenes. The revelations and consequences of The Heart will reverberate through the Kansas Collection like the aftershocks of a major earthquake. Everything we knew, or thought we knew, about the story has gone up in flames, shifting the narrative to other characters – ones I will be keeping a close eye on. With any luck, Oz will get a happy ending. In the meantime, I have to figure out who – and what – I fight for. What am I willing to sacrifice to save Kansas… and Oz?