“This Darker Life”, An Immersive Theatre Experience in Atlanta

I am not quite sure when the climate around theatre seemed to make this shift towards immersive experiences. Obviously there is the wildly successful “Sleep No More” that is going strong on Broadway right now in which you enter a five-story hotel and wander it, slowly guided in part by the actors, but also allowed to have your own personal journey. Here in Atlanta, my first experience was with Michael Haverty’s “Navigator” at The Goat Farm in 2013. The Goat Farm is an interesting and textured location that lends itself easily to a creative flexibility that has gone on to house other “immersive” theatre shows. I also had the fortune to see “Terminus” this spring, a journey inspired by Watership Down and told through the vehicle of the American Civil War.

The most recent iteration and amazing use of the space for storytelling belongs to “The Darker Life”, the brainchild of Raymond Carr and Raymond Tilton. “This Darker Life” uses the spirit behind the well-known “This American Life” radio show and allows many story-tellers to explore personal stories and tell them in their own way while being held together by a common spirit. The use of light (and lack thereof) to fully engulf the viewer, not only guides the experience but especially in the last piece of the night, allows the audience viewer to discover things at their own pace.

The show itself wasn’t polished but there was an obvious creativeness allowed in that kind of freedom. Every story was a different voice and was allowed to remain that way and that is where the authenticness comes from. The opening piece by Dani Herd was my favorite because of not only how personal the story was but how much I could relate to it. And the show ended with a gorgeous piece by Raymond Wilson and Raymond Carr that used the space the best and was wonderfully scored by George Koetle-Wallace. Victor Wilson’s character that bookends each piece is wonderfully charming as well. The Goat Farm is trying very hard to help original storytelling and I am all for this individual experience that is shorter, cheaper and more personal. I hope that this trend continues and we can go back to getting truly unique storytelling. The other storytellers in the show include Bill Taft, S. Bedford, Brian Griffin and Gregg Van Laningham. I would like more of this please.

The 8pm show tonight is sold out but there are still a few tickets to the 10pm show! One last chance.