Kansas Collection – Chapter Three: The Door

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. Everyone – the Scarecrow’s Militia, the Patchwork Resistance, REVOLT – is looking for Dorothy thinking she is the key to saving Oz. But where is she?

The Door is the third chapter in a series, each lasting around 30 minutes. To catch up, read my reviews of Chapter One: The Key  and Chapter Two: The Axe. To avoid SPOILERS for The Door, skip to my Overview.

Out from Hiding

I huddled outside a bar in Chinatown with three other guests, quietly passing the time. A young man in suspenders holding a lantern breathlessly ran up to us and asked if we had gotten the message from Oscar Diggs (the former Wizard of Oz) to come meet with him. The upbeat man introduced himself as “Jack” (as in Jack Pumpkinhead!) and led us down an alleyway to a nondescript door next to a pungent dumpster. Jack told us how he had been part of the Militia, then the Patchwork, and now…? I found Jack to be a kind soul and immediately trusted him in all his naiveté. Jack showed us down the stairs into a cement room, barren except for a cot and a table in the middle of the room.

What was left of the Wizard of Oz, Oscar Diggs emerged from behind a curtain (how appropriate) and shooed Jack away. Diggs thanked me and the other guests for coming, poured a glass of water, and told us to hang tight and be quiet when she came. She? Could it be? Had Diggs found Dorothy?

A few moments later, a timid young woman in a blue dress cautiously descended the stairs. It was her: the Patchwork Girl, the Lost Princess, Dorothy Gale. Dorothy took in her surroundings and everyone in the room. Eyes landing on Diggs, she began to shake her head and insist that this was just a dream. Diggs spoke softly to her, as you would a frightened animal, and told her it was all real and that Oz needed her help. Still disbelieving, Dorothy tried to flee from the room, but Diggs coaxed her back with the promise of a magic trick.

Dorothy sat and drank some water while Diggs bid us closer to the table. He sat and pulled out a deck of cards. Laying the cards out like a Tarot reading, Diggs told Dorothy her story – her past, present, and future. Dorothy grew angry and demanded answers from Diggs, most of which he didn’t have. Hearing Diggs’ admission that it was easy to leave Dorothy in Oz despite his promise to take her home, Dorothy’s heart broke, and mine along with it. Lost in the moment, we didn’t hear that someone had joined us in the basement: the Daring twins.

The Right Choice?

Phoebe and Phil Daring sauntered down the stairs, commanding our attention and thanking Diggs for his help in locating and capturing Dorothy. Shocked by yet another betrayal, I watched helplessly as Dorothy, under a spell from the water she had drank, was forced to obey every order barked by Phoebe: “Sit. Stand. Blow me a kiss. Follow me.” Phoebe led Dorothy up the stairs, but not before demanding I go with them. Singled out, I went up the stairs as the rest of the recruits stayed with Phil and Diggs.

Phoebe sat Dorothy in a chair and requested I help restrain the captive Patchwork Girl. Apologetic to Dorothy, my voice was weak when I asked Phoebe, “And if I don’t..?” Phoebe laughed and said that if I didn’t help, she would do it herself, and that the restraints were for Dorothy’s safety during travel. I felt extraordinarily uncomfortable tightening the buckles around Dorothy’s hands and feet as she cried and begged us not to take her back to Oz.

Dorothy suddenly stopped pleading and really scrutinized Phoebe for a moment. “You’re her…” she whispered. Phoebe smiled a wolfish grin and revealed herself to be Ozma. “But not the good part,” Dorothy said, shaken. Dorothy claimed to see only the good in people, but with Phoebe/Ozma, there was no good to see. Torn between the two women, I stood taking it all in like a deer in headlights. I now wish I had been bold enough to help Dorothy and undo her restraints. But I stared dumbly as Phoebe/Ozma debilitated Dorothy with a chloroformed rag.

Taking me by the arm, Phoebe/Ozma thanked me for my service. She told me how excited she was for her upcoming nuptials to the Scarecrow, especially now with Dorothy to offer. Phoebe/Ozma was happy when I said I would attend the wedding and ushered me outside so she could take Dorothy back to Oz for I don’t know what…

Overview

Meeting with the other guests after the event, I couldn’t help but notice how the Kansas Collection brings its participants together. Before the show, we were silent and buried in our phones, but after, we excitedly talked about our individual journeys, what hidden secrets we’ve found, whose side we were on, and what it all meant. The Door wasn’t as emotional as The Axe for me, but I am definitely having a more difficult time justifying my choices in this chapter. Maintaining the use of only minimal sets and props, the performances continue to drive the story. The acting was stellar, as usual, and it’s very exciting to see how the Speakeasy Society incorporates various characters from the beloved Baum books. The story they’ve woven is rich in Oz lore, and I’m 100% in it with them.

Get tickets to upcoming chapters here.

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