Monday, October 15, 2012

"Suspicious Package" from Future Tenant

"Suspicious Package" is an interactive role-playing theatrical experience that has been to New York, Edinburgh and recently closed (to far less fanfare than deserved) in Pittsburgh. A sugar-substitute heiress, hard-boiled detective, a glamorous showgirl and a cast of other noir archetypes are played by the theatre-goers who are directed their lines, inner monologues and footsteps via iPod.

The Hostess, Creator, Writer and Video Performer Gyda Arber has created an experience that is both entertaining and completely accessible. Most multi-media works push the threshold of audience/performer relationships - sometimes uncomfortably so - but "Suspicious Package" is just fun! Any fan of noir films, Raymond Chandler novels or just pretending are in for a treat if this show moves on to another venue.

"Suspicious Package" takes a group, six at most, and assigns everyone a role: Detective, Heiress, etc., then a hat (or feather boa), and a Personal Video Player. Participants walk around the block, visiting secret locations as music, their character's voice overs and actions that must be accomplished are piped in through their perfectly-synced earphones. The audience/actors are given just enough to structure the story: The Showgirl flirts with the Detective, the Reporter snoops, the Doctor has a bright red bag, but the "how" things get accomplished, i.e. the fun bits are up to the spur-of-the moment, and off-the-top-of-the-head.

The Pittsburgh version only covered a single block and had only three locations (which is good for the directionally-challenged but can be repetitive in terms of the story). But it's honestly impressive how well the system works, considering the mixture of the two most unwieldy components of the theatre: Audience & Technology.

For future information on her shows, Gyda Arber's Website can be found here:

The Eponymous Theatre Critic is gypped out of a lot of birthday presents. It's not the placement of Epony's birthday in the calender, but Epony's gambling addiction.

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