BWW Review: CABAL at Walking Shadow Theatre
Though I have been a fan of Walking Shadow's plays for years, I was perhaps most intrigued by their newest offering: Cabal. Cabal is a derived work from David Pisa and John Heimbuch, which self describes itself as "a play with puzzles." For those that may be a little confounded, as I was, upon reading that description: It's essentially like having cut-scenes in a video game, acted out in front of you, while you are also doing puzzles in a small group moving from room to room. The puzzles function much like an escape room does.
Suffice to say: if you are a fan of new theatre or puzzle rooms, this is probably the perfect fit for you. As a puzzle-room lover myself, it was great to experience both exciting new theatre and interactive, collaborative elements. All groups are kept to a 10-person maximum, so you really can feel part of the experience.
The plot itself follows an ancient magical order as two of its society members uncover a secret plot, which you get to help solve. The acting is strong --- both Tara Borman and Jamie Case do a beautiful balancing act of both engaging the audience in the dialogue and plots, and being your guide through the puzzles and spaces. The dialogue takes up about 36 minutes of time, whereas the entire play (dialogue included) lasted about 90 minutes for my group. The plot feels a little daunting in its inner complexities and nuances, especially for such a short amount of time, but overall was engaging and understandable.
It's also not the first puzzle play that Walking Shadow has done, and you can tell: all of the transitions from puzzle to puzzle and room to room feel very seamless.
When asked "Has anyone ever done this before?", Walking Shadow says "As far as we know, we're the only company in history to combine theater and puzzles in this way."
If nothing else, it's a great and unique icebreaker for when someone asks you what you did over the weekend.
A few tips for people who are thinking of going:
-Bring a group of people that you like and want to work with in a fun space. Knowing people at the show makes it more entertaining.
-Don't be afraid to get involved when the puzzles reveal themselves - you'll have something to add, certainly.
-Have fun and take the chance to really get immersed in the world that Cabal creates. I certainly have not had an experience quite like this one. Since you'll know all the puzzles once you're done with the show, it's really a one-time-only affair, so make it count.
You can read FAQ's and buy tickets for the show here.