"Will this give me nightmares?"
I find myself asking this question often. The threat of potential sleepytime horror has kept me out of a few fandoms (THE WALKING DEAD AAAAH). I'm glad, however, that I sucked it up to see Elder Gods.
Elder Gods is an immersive show presented by DreamLogic Theatreworks. Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, it follows the survivors of some seriously ill-fated, Antarctic journeys. The spoiler-free version: Something ancient was found near the South Pole. It did not stay there.
The characters are acted passionately. William Dyer (Colin Jackson)'s fight for his tenure is gripping. Albert Moore (David Sweeney) is a delicious villain. His first victim, Clara (Ariel Begley), stays in a coffin for the entire production- dedication! My favorite was Riley Danforth (Tyler Pistorius), screaming from his hospital bed. The actor convinced me of the invader in his body. The show's use of a Movement Coordinator is clear, as Danforth pulls focus from across the room.
...Yes, across the room. The most unique aspect of Elder Gods is the performance space: a huge room dotted with multiple sets. Scenes take place all over, sometimes simultaneously. Audience members must walk the environment to experience all of the Lovecraftian articles and imagery. Viewers are students one moment, a jury the next. Sweeney went so far as to hide behind my group. I let him. I secretly root for the bad guys. ;-)
If this sounds intimidating, know that the show's Artistic Director (Scott McKinsey) is incredibly welcoming. He addressed my whole group by first name, invited us to hang our coats and get a drink, and explained the whole process.
My only wish for Elder Gods would be more professional equipment. Several circumstances pulled me from the world. Wires that powered the sets were taped in all directions across the floor. A plot-relevant green light switched on with an obvious CLICK, diluting scary moments. ("Oh, we're above a Great Clips!") The immersive experience was unique, but I would have happily sacrificed it if it meant a sound/light board and hidden wiring.
Don't get me wrong. It still gave me nightmares. I literally dove to the other side of my bed that night, mid-sleep, convinced I was being chased by fire. See it, and support local, experimental, geeky theatre.
DreamLogic Theatreworks presents ELDER GODS
Friday, March 2nd, and Saturday, March 3rd, 620 Davis (above Great Clips), Evanston, 8PM, $15-30.