BWW Reviews: CapFringe13 - DOUBLE FREAKQUENCY Cleverly Offers an Interactive Audio Adventure
DOUBLE FREAKQUENCY at the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival provides a technological twist that dresses up a pretty tame one-act play. I can't predict that it will be the new trend in theatre performance, but I can say it is an innovative idea.
Billed as interactive audio theatre and presented by AVAdVenture Productions the novelty of DOUBLE FREAKQUENCY is that the audience can choose the branch of the story they wish to take with the help of a wireless headset. The actor's voices and the sound effects are rendered through the sound system directly into your ears.
Each patron can select from two channels or switch between the two on their headphones. I chose to stick with Channel "A." You might be slightly lost if you don't listen in the headsets at all, however. (Even the actors have to wear them.) The cast acts up a storm in most cases, but they mime everything - action and dialogue. The four actors are not always convincing mime artists which makes the audio track even more vital.
Based on what I experienced, channel "A" and channel "B" offers the same story from different points of view. A small group of twenty-somethings are introduced, living and working in a major city. In adjacent apartments, Alex (Summer McCarley) and Renee (Caitlin Carbone) spend time going about their business, although Alex tends to obsess about what's going on in her neighbor's apartment a little too much.
As the story unfolds, we also meet two guys, Doug (Josh Blubaugh) unemployed and without a place to live and T.J. (Mauricio Marces) who becomes Renee's new roommate. The new roommate causes friction and the thin walls of the apartments becomes a battle ground of sorts.
How each of the characters has been connected in the past and how their paths cross again is part of the fun of the show. The play, co-written by Adam Stackhouse and Liz Sykes, may not win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, but it's pleasant enough, with a vibe similar to the HBO comedy hit "Girls."
The hook of the show - the interactive audio delivery - is why I wanted to give the show a try and it worked for me. The strength of the sound production won me over: from the tiniest sound of a floor squeak, tinkle of silverware, the dynamic sounds of the city, and the perfectly synched dialogue.
A couple of seasons back, I remember reading about a West Coast production of The Who's TOMMY in which each member of the audience were given headphones to listen to the rock opera as it was being performed onstage. I was intrigued by the idea and felt it certainly was ripe for the times. People of every age now use personal audio almost as a matter of course - riding the Metro or the stationary bike. Produced by Flicker House Productions in 2008, the personal audio version of Tommy Received mixed reviews, and I have not gotten wind similar productions.
(To read more about that production, here is a link to Broadway World - Los Angeles coverage of the production: BWW-TV: Awakening The Who's Tommy in LA )
Using the same idea on a smaller scale, DOUBLE FREAKQUENCY is the brainchild of Stackhouse and Sykes whose company AVAdVenture Productions specializes in immersive experiences, using audio and group dynamics. The company has won awards for video production, provides engaging experiences for students of all ages through their interactive events. Now they may be onto another winning idea for the theatre.
I look forward to seeing how interactive audio develops and if other theatres and producers take note.
- Reviewed by Jeffrey Walker
DOUBLE FREAKQUENCY - Interactive Audio Theatre. Written and directed by Adam Stackhouse and Liz Sykes. Featuring Josh Blubaugh, Caitlin Carbone, Mauricio Marces, and Summer McCarley.
At Stage 4, The Studio Theatre, Capital Fringe 2013: July 11, 14, 19, 24, and 27, 2013
Click HERE to go to the Capital Fringe page for DOUBLE FREAKQUENCY for information and tickets.