Interactive theater (which may or may not be the technical name of this sort of show) has become extremely popular in NYC. First, there was Sleep No More, based on Macbeth–which I have wanted to attend for 2 years and will attend eventually. It’s really expensive and I’ve heard you either hate it or love it; if I’m spending that much on the experience, I’ve already decided I’m going to love it, regardless of whether I actually do. Then She Fell is another one, based on Lewis Carroll’s works–even more expensive and “intimate,” and, if we can trust the reviews, incredible.
Pretty soon there will probably be even more, and I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually there was a show based on Frankenstein, where the audience is limited to one, and you are trapped in a room with Frankenstein’s monster, and your goal is to find a way out before the monster kills you. And it costs $5,000 to attend.
But for now, I decided to spend less than a small fortune on a show that was perhaps less sophisticated than the more popular, longer-running ones, perhaps a little less intense, maybe a little less enjoyable. A Midsummer Night’s Dream started with the concept of actors interacting with the audience, and then eventually the performance started to resemble something you could actually follow.
It probably would have helped if I’d had any idea of the plot of the original play aside from what I’d quickly skimmed on Wikipedia beforehand, but it was still entertaining. The cast may have been slightly less professional than the ones who stay in character every single second for the other more elaborate shows (for example, when chatting with Nick Bottom before the show, it was confusing that he mentioned Marcel Marceau yet had never heard of the New York Times–which time period exactly was he supposed to be from?). But it was also less stressful knowing that even if you didn’t catch every minute of the action–if, for example, you were more interested in talking to Puck about his magic flower than watching a lover’s quarrel on the other side of the room–you weren’t out almost $100 for the experience.
So overall, I liked it, despite the fact that it took me the whole two hours to realize that the half-naked man with antlers and a tail and the woman wearing solely gauze were actually just audience members. You never knew when you would become part of the action (participating in one of those “form a human knot and then untangle it” ice-breakers I’m all too familiar with) or the action would sneak up on you (getting hit on the hand by a plastic bouquet of flowers that hurt more than you would’ve thought).
Was it worth $30? Compared to the others out there 3 times the price, without having even seen them, I have to say yes.