Every time I see a show presented by the Quantum Theatre I am full of compliments about how creatively they use unique spaces to set the feel for their productions. Well their current production of Tamara has taken that factor to a whole new level. Set in the Rodef Shalom Congregation (shalom), Tamara is an interactive experience that has its audiences choosing their own stories to watch.
The entire production is a full-fledged night out. When you arrive at the building you are taken out to the beautiful garden for champagne (actually I’m not sure this happens at all performances, but it happened to me so I’ll mention it. You may not get champagne). Then you get an introduction to some of the characters you’ll be following for the rest of the evening. They set some rules as well: you can follow whomever you want, but you can only leave the room when you’re following someone out of it. You can choose to change characters if you wish, or follow the same person for the whole show. Similar to a “choose your own adventure” book from your childhood, the path is entirely up to you.
For intermission there’s an hour-long dinner and each week of the run it is catered by a different local chef. I went on the last day to be fed by Kate Romane Productions, which you can get yourself at the restaurantE2. It was a delicious veggie-heavy meal (also some boss chicken) and during dinner you can bond with your table-mates and swap stories to learn more about what’s going on with the show It’s definitely a good idea to go with some friends, although you can always make new ones once you get there.
Now, let me be perfectly honest with you. If you can’t tell, this production is sort of like a game: you make the choices that reflect the experience you have. And learn from my mistakes people, because I did not play a good game. Perhaps it’s my ADD or possibly my need to know everybody’s business, but I kept switching characters every chance I got. Do NOT do that. Pick 2 to 4 people and stick with them as hard as you can. Otherwise, you’ll end up not knowing much about anybody and it’ll just get more and more confusing. I have no recommendations to which characters you should follow (I only saw the titular Tamara twice all night), just make sure you commit early on in the game.
But don’t get me wrong, everyone in the cast and crew deserves a huge tip of the hat. The timing and organization ran so smooth on my night, and it was a sold out show so the crowd was pretty hefty. The rooms were very well-decorated and all had ample room for everyone to stand in and watch the show. I know I didn’t get into any plot or character details in this review, only because they could be quite unnecessary for the show you get to see. So if you’re up for an interesting night of moving dinner theater, check out Tamara and we can swap stories after.
Presented by the Quantum Theatre, at the Rodef Shalom Congregatoin
Directed by John Shepard
Written by John Krizanc
Designed by Stephanie Mayer-Staley (scenery), Pei-Chi Su (costumes), C. Todd Brown (lighting), Ryan McMasters and Aaron Vockley (sound)
Starring Robin Abramson (Luisa Baccara), Ken Bolden (Gian Francesco de Spiga), Cathryn Dylan (Carlotta Barra), Ethan Hova (Dante Fenzo), Megan MacKenzie Lawrence (Tamara de Lempicka), Rachel McKeon (Emilia Pavese), Thomas Constantine Moore (Mario Pagnutti), Fermin Suarez (Gabriele d’Annunzio), Robert Turano (Aldo Finzi), Tammy Tsai (Aelis Mazoyer).
Performance Date: August 10, 2014