A dark and mysterious figure stands before us, wearing the fearsome mask of the plague doctor. He is being held captive and he asks for our help to free him. Once free, he intends to take revenge on those who forced him into captivity. To help him, we had to sneak into the admin seat and retrieve an important item. We decided to infiltrate the office and come up with a plan to get the special item. When we walk into the offices it was chaotic all around us with workers everywhere. Luckily, the overseer isn’t in his office, giving us time to sneak in and recover. We managed, but as we tried to rush to return the item, the doors locked and we were trapped inside the building.
Signals, a theatrical production of the last call
This is Signals, a Last Call Theater production as part of the 2022 Hollywood Fringe Festival. This immersive theatrical experience takes guests into a sci-fi world where they can choose how to continue the story. The unique experience was a joy, and the level of enjoyment for guests depends on their proactivity and engagement with the story.
Entertainment comes in all shapes and sizes, from movies to video games. With an immersive theatrical experience (interactive plays), entertainment is taken to the next level. In New York there is the popular Sleep No More where you can choose your own adventure from an elaborate production. Plus, we’re blessed with Los Angeles’ Delusion, a spooky experience where a small group discovers what horror awaits them. The concept takes a story and brings it to life with elaborate sets and actors. Guests can be part of this immersive experience by interacting and playing with them in person.
Temper your expectations
If you’ve had experiences like Arcane, Delusion, and Sleep No More, lower your expectations for Signals. The sets and props aren’t as elaborate and grand as the others. And the size of the experience is what I would consider average compared to larger experiences. That said, the production team of mostly Fringe veterans did a great job of making it a fun experience with interesting props, fun puzzles, and distinctive characters.
There are two popular types of immersive interactive theater. There’s the more linear one where a small group embarks on an adventure on their own. The other involves dozens of participants who form different groups and choose their own adventures while solving clues. (Similar to Arcane Experience, based on the Netflix animated series.) Signals is the latter, and the teams included are security, research, D-class personnel and the administrator.
Our group was Security, and our mission was to help the secret organization known as the Foundation. We headed to the research area and accepted a side mission from a scientist. The mission is to test the artifact found in the archives. The strange artifact in our hands was a hat, but it wasn’t just any ordinary hat. We tested this on another scientist in the lab, and it made them speak dirty Latin. This is just one example of the few interesting elements inside the Foundation.
The team says participants can help guide Signals’ story and impact the outcome of the show. I felt like we had a hand in that. For example, some of the tasks we performed impact the lives of characters in the organization. As a result, we have seen drama and chaos unfold before us. There were times when our group was divided on a solution, and we met in the middle. It really makes this immersive experience very interactive.
Signals was a lot of fun, and your level of enjoyment is highly dependent on what you put into it. If you’re the passive type, this might not be for you. However, if you’re more of an outgoing person or willing to step out of your comfort zone, this experience is one hell of an adventure featuring compelling characters, intertwining stories, and supernatural elements.
Synopsis: Signals invites participants to Site 00013, a science fiction research station filled with anomalous artifacts and beings from other dimensions contained by a secret organization known as The Foundation. You are invited to join the Foundation as agents as they attempt to contain those things they believe threaten humanity. Not only are there multiple different endings that depend on audience interactions throughout the night, each character’s fate also depends on the choices the audience makes. This show will have several changing branching paths for audience members to explore ensuring that each performance is a completely unique show.
Signals is directed by Alexander Whitover. The production team is led by creative lead Jacob Zorehkey with producers Ashley Busenlener, Nick Griffith and Sabrina Sonner. The cast includes 16 members of the set that make up the administration team, research team, security, and the monsters contained on site 00013. The cast includes Ashley Busenlener, Riley Cole, Olivia Crews, Michael DiNardo, Kale Hinthorn, Liviera Lim, Ian Melamed, Naomi Melville, Byron Monterroso, Alexander Panagos, Jason Pollak, Philip Saguil, Haven Schneider, Michaela Skaribas, Mikey Takla and Evan. Jerking off.
Signals is now running through June 26, 2022 at the Themele Arts Building (5481 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029). Ticket prices range from $30 to $35.
For more information on Signalsplease visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7406.