Review by David Walters
W E L C O M E T R A I N E E
WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU
That is the setup and what you will see upon first signing on to X the Experience. You are a participant in the experience and you will be requested to lose your individuality, be one with the collective, and help to guide two waning members, X Joey (Cheech Manohoar) and X Joei (Kim Exum, exuding a wonderful onscreen presence) who are struggling and about to break with WE and become THEM. Since you are only a trainee in this important function you will be guided in this task by THE (Gillian Saker) and your function is to watch closely the futile inner turmoil and struggle of losing oneself, of giving oneself over to the collective WE of X Joey and X Joei. If they aren’t able to fight their way through and shed their personal provocative narrative, they will have to be disappeared, as only WE can survive. Realizing that feelings don’t matter is the only way through. Do what you can to keep them from drifting. Be careful that do not falter though, you are being monitored, very closely, as well. Say it with me, “I am not I. I am we. WE.”
The tech and the music in this piece are a highlight, establishing a continually monitored dystopian world. Expect an email prior to the performance linking you up to the Vimeo presentation and do make sure your WhatsApp is loaded and working properly on your phone as that is the way other members of WE will be contacting, monitoring your behavior, and communicating with you throughout the event. The feedback you will be receiving through WhatsApp during the experience is focused on how you interact. A more advanced member of the collective (not a bot) will be live, watching you through your WhatsApp responses and targeting you specifically if your thinking begins to falter. Be warned!
What the experience did for me was, in the long drawn-out moments of repetition, I found myself appreciating people as a whole. Specifically, our struggles for independence and desire for free thought, and the inner drive that we all possess, though some never realize, to become an individual. Not that I broke out in a song from Man of La Mancha, but more contemplatively, I found myself praising the individual peoples of this world and our struggles through and for self.
X the Experience, presented by Alvarez Keko Salazar Productions and Poseidon Theatre Company.
Script is by Jason Veasey and directed by Aaron Salazar.
Starring: Cheech Manohar and Kim Exum, with Gillian Saker and Meaghan Sands.
The production team includes Tony Mayes (director of photography); Manuel Pelayo (composer); Giancarlo Bonfanti (composer); Matt Katz (composer); Christopher Leo Daniels (co-editor); Aaron Salazar (editor); and Napoleon Douglas (associate producer).
Now running through Saturday, May 22. The performance schedule is Friday at 8:30 pm and Saturday at 3:30 pm, with one intermission. Tickets are $50 for the full interactive experience, are available by visiting bit.ly/XtheExperience. For more information, visit XtheExperience.com. Video teaser here.