Photo: Carrie Williams & David Hansen
There is something wonderful about mystery, especially when it comes in the form of a random email inviting you to be a guest at a random destination for an immersive play experience. And what wondrous rewards await the immersed as your consciousness is transformed by being surrounded by a virtual and artistic environment that is literally inches away from you. That was my experience tonight as I took a house tour from top to bottom, which included watching famous historical couples dealing with a variety of situations as presented in “Love in Pieces” by Sarah Morton.
This delicious recipe for adventure was written in 1997 by playwright, actor, educator, and activist Morton and, after winning the Chilcote award, the play was given a full production at Cleveland Public Theatre. Tonight, artistically marinated artists take the piece for a physical and visual ride.
The evening is hosted by Ellen Nicole Morales. The guides for the tour are Elaine Feagler, Chennelle Bryant-Harris, Khaki Herman, and Michael Silverstein. We go in groups of three, predetermined by our playing card symbol. I was a Diamond. Thank you. Donning a mask, our silence is requested and it begins.
You have no program, so there is no way to know what you are going to encounter. Each scene is directed by a “Master of Scene.” Our first destination is the basement, where we meet Orpheus (Andrew Gombas) and Eurydice (Llewie Nunez). The eerily lit basement provides an ethereal environment for these lovers to kick some “Don’t look at me, because I’m beautiful” ass. Both actors display deft representations of angst for the ages and heartbreaking realness that sometimes love comes with a heavy price. David Hansen provides Master of Scene. The after-party is held in the kitchen, where we dance with each other to the beautiful voiced Gombas hauntingly drifting up through the stairwell partnered with a folk guitar.
In the attic awaits Cupid (Christopher Sanders) and Psyche (Katelyn Cornelius). Lit by cellphone light, the pair is painfully effective at displaying a tortured love, and an attempt to repair wingless ambition with beautiful, emotional connections. Master of Scene is Tim Pringpuangkeo (the best last name ever).
Master of Scene Michael Silverstein ignites the raucous pair of the evening, Antony (David Hansen) and Cleopatra (Carrie Williams). Ok, these two are gold. Watching the fiery Williams try to solve Antony’s “engine” problem is a scream. And Hansen kills it as he becomes an accidental drag queen which apparently prevents him from having to order Viagra online. I have to have a drink with this couple.
We head into the bathroom as Master of Scene Chennelle Bryant-Harris present Laertes (Brett Radke) and Ophelia (Brittany Nicole Gaul). This scene is physically the bravest of all, with Gaul bearing all in emotion, acting and herself. Gaul is fierce, as is Radke who provides an interesting consort with intelligent interplay. Incredible fearless work.
A shout out to Musicians Andrew Wise (Piano) and Liam McMillin (Bass) for providing some classy jazz infusion to the evening.
This is a great unexpected experience. Immerse yourself whenever you can.
Kevin Joseph Kelly