The audio elements, the wonderful actors, the use of lighting to set a mood for the space, the simple ingenuity of it all.
What I didn't like
It could be much longer, please extend!
My overall impression
“Congratulations, you’re dead.”
It’s probably not the way you expect a theatre show to begin, but this is the Hollywood Fringe Festival, after all–and this is Aaron Vanek and Kirsten Hageleit’s One Last Thing Before You Go, so it’s not particularly surprising. Vanek and Hageleit’s brief but intriguing twenty-odd minute solo immersive piece is a fantastic opening to what deserves to be a longer show. It’s the beginning of a strong foundation to a piece that hopefully will be expanded and remounted in the coming months; Vanek expertly uses his extensive live action role playing background to craft a multi-option experience that immersive theatre veterans will be pleased to experience, and newcomers to the genre will likely find very accessible.
The set-up is simple: you’re dead, and before you cross over, well, there’s just this one last thing. What that thing is depends on you—the dead one in question. Indeed, the small cast (featuring intense, strong performances from Shoshanna Green, Pip Lilly, and Brenda Gutierrez) is fully prepared for almost any action, or inaction, the participant may take. Vanek also uses some extremely clever light and sound tricks that, even in their simplicity, serve to transform the space into a somewhat unnerving plane between the living and the dead.
The only drawback of the performance is how truncated it feels, it’s almost as if you are yanked off an exciting precipice just before you decide to jump. This drawback, however, only reinforces the strength of One Last Thing Before You Go’s concept; it’s an ideal starting point for a show that, come Halloween season, could contend with established “haunt” type experiences with its fresh approach to some ghostly subjects. Here’s hoping this successful run inspires much more immersive content from Vanek going forward.