AntiMatter Collective put on a truly interesting evening of theater entertainment as part of the SubletSeries@HERE with their production of The Tower. The audience was brought into the space and collectively told about the tour they would be embarking on. The backdrop opened onto an entire set in which audience members could roam. There was the cut-away of a log cabin, a picnic table, camp sites with chairs and even debris on the ground to demarcate that we were clearly in the woods. Trees aligned the walls and the sounds of birds and crickets could be heard.
As the tour commenced we were transported back to 1846 as we watched the Donners, the Reeds and other families live out their lives as they traveled west to California; or got caught in a violent snowstorm doing so.This beautiful ensemble cast was a pleasure to watch as they acted out the lives of these ill-fated travelers. One group stayed to weather out the storm, while another party went off in search of help and supplies. The amazing movement sequences, whether in unison or jumbled around, brought such a great understanding of the monotony of the world they lived in.
Projections for snowfall and video for certain scenes also enhanced the experience. However, certain media and other props and effects, such as an electric iron and grille and a seventies disco nightmare dance, pulled us away from the feel of the tough wilderness we had become accustomed to enduring with the characters. It isn’t subtitled The Psychedelic Tragedy of the Donner Party for nothing. That said, I do enjoy a good dance sequence, and these things helped to lighten the heaviness of the show and it’s gruesome topic.
Philip Gates did an excellent job directing this crazy piece of art. Kudos, again, to the wonderful cast for their commitment and talent. Other than standing for the majority of the two hours, as we moved out of the actors’ way and followed the action of the two stories, this was a very enjoyable evening out. Except for maybe those who got eaten.