I’ve seen several shows at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater. They usually have an abstract, performance-art style. My colleague at Media Geeks, Lacey, told me she was cast in the latest Zombie Joe production and that it was different than what they usually do. It’s an immersive show with a narrative, and that was enough for me to go check it out!
Together Again takes place in 1989 at a casino night party for donors to NURTURE Research Labs, a scientific organization whose goals are not entirely clear. But we (the donors) were told project “Blue Dolphin,” would change the world, so we ponied up, and we’re here to see the results!
Immersive theater is still new to most people and is not just one type of show. It can be as simple as two people or as elaborate as massive cult initiation ceremonies (just sayin’). It struck me that for many audience members and theater fans who are still unsure what this immersive stuff is all about, Together Again is a great introduction. It’s fun, light-hearted, and your participation level is entirely up to you. The characters will interact with you, but they won’t be pushy. If you want to dive deeper, you can do that. If not, you can have a good time and observe the proceedings.
In fact, observation may be the best way to go. As with any good immersive show, there are plot threads that are not on display for the entire audience. After the show I discovered I missed a couple of them. I realized this could be entirely my fault–I was trying hard to be an active participant, but I was focused on ME…always remember that an immersive show is still a show, and observing the performers is the best way to find the secrets or branching paths.
The performers here are a good group. They play a diverse range of characters, from the scientists working on Blue Dolphin, to the head of NURTURE Labs, to the casino dealers. Some of them may even start their performances before you are enter the theater. The director, Brandon Slezak, is also an actor in a small but important role. Lacey plays one half of the husband-and-wife scientist team. Everyone seems to have a secret, but it’s not so easy to find out what they’re up to.
The casino party takes a turn for the unexpected, of course, and when the night ended, I will grinning goofily, participating in a kind of shared bonding ritual that was wholly unexpected (and therefore, memorable and worthwhile). I think immersive fans will like it, but more importantly, I think those who are curious but haven’t taken the plunge will enjoy it too. Take a friend or a relative. Don’t tell them anything. Let them discover it for themselves while you take all the credit for finding such a unique night out.
Together Again runs approximately 45 minutes and costs $15. Showtimes are only Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 through Aug. 25th. Tickets are available at the door, or ahead of time here. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group is located at 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA, 91601. Get more info by visiting www.zombiejoes.com