Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where To Be Merry: The Build UP @ "The Castle"

The Merriment: Site-specific theatre: a theatrical production that takes place not onstage, but in multiple rooms of a Hollywood Hills mansion called “The Castle”

The Location: Hollywood

The Vibes: Creative, adventurous, hilariously entertaining, extremely fun, suspenseful

Good for: Anyone 21+ and open to an atypical theatrical experience 

When-To-Go: Shows run every Sunday in March, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

The $ Factor: $; $25 per ticket (includes wine and beer)

I’ll Be Back…: To enter another room that I didn't have a chance to enter the first time around

The 4-1-1: The Build UP is an unforgettable experience, in every sense of the phrase!

The night commences with a van picking up guests at a designated pick-up/drop-off location. Guests are whisked away to “The Castle” for a mini-reception with complimentary wine, beer and water. After the reception, the show begins on the ground floor and takes place in several different rooms for about 45 minutes, before everyone ends up on the rooftop patio, with a full-out “party” and jam session by the band.

Aside from being a classy, well-produced affair from start to finish, the real highlight of the evening is the performance style itself.

There’s no stage. Not one.

Instead, actors move through the kitchen, living room, bathroom, upstairs bedroom, downstairs balcony and hallways, using the spaces as if the audience wasn’t even there. In turn, the audience fills up areas not occupied by the actors, squeezing against the wall, sitting on the floor and in chairs, and sometimes, even standing directly next to the actors themselves. It’s a very exciting, unusual sensation, and it almost feels slightly voyeuristic, as if you’re peeping in on something private that you have no business watching.

As if that wasn’t already out-of-the-box enough, the play has another twist:

Remember those choose-your-own-adventure books where you picked between two or more options on how the story continued? That’s exactly what happens with The Build UP. For the first scene, everyone starts in the kitchen. But in the second scene in the living room, at one point, some of the actors remain there, while others move to the balcony…then some actors stay in the living room while others go upstairs. For an indecisive Gemini like myself, it was a little nerve-wrecking to have to make on-the-whim decisions on where to go next. Do I hear what’s going on at the balcony? What’s all that commotion upstairs – should I have gone that way instead of staying downstairs?

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll simply say this about the story itself: it’s about a wife who’s on the verge of losing it all – her marriage, her ambition, herself – and what happens when her husband and a handful of colorful characters unexpectedly show up to their home one glamorous Hollywood night. I applaud the actors for their incredible performances. They stayed in character the entire time, which I could only imagine would be extremely difficult, with an audience continually shifting around and breathing down their necks.

So the next time you're in the mood for a nontraditional play and a spectacular way to spend your Sunday evening, I highly recommend checking out The Build UP. Just make sure to either take a friend so you can both split when actors go in different rooms and then recap to each other what each one of you saw, or, just go see the play more than once.

See you there soon!

**Heads up: I’m giving away two tickets to the Sunday, March 17th, 6:30-9:30 p.m. performance. If interested, simply tweet “#BuildUP” to @WilsonsGuide no later than this Thursday, 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner will be selected randomly and announced on Friday morning.**

For more information: 

The cast, from left to right: Chris Mollica, Taro Morita, Tina McDowelle, Alex Dawson (seated), Peppur Chambers (writer/director, seated) Erica Peeples (seated), Shakir Chambers (creator, producer) and Daniel Ball (loungin' on the ottoman).

 Photo credit for cast photo and last photo: Adenrele Ojo Photography

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