Fringe 2019 Review: ‘The War: An Immersive Audio Drama’
Time travel no longer requires a DeLorean, or even a Tardis. Thanks to Phoenix Tears Productions, the Orlando company behind last year’s Stardust After Dark, all you need to go back to the future is a pair of wireless headphones, an active imagination, and a bit of patience.
The War: An Immersive Audio Drama begins with a pre-mission briefing on the steps outside the Orlando Rep, in which a scientist (artistic director Mallory Vance) delivers exposition about the devastating civil war that destroyed 75% of the world’s population (top that, Thanos). Then, volunteers are divided into three teams, each of which is transported back to experience a pivotal battle from a different perspective. My group rendezvoused with an anti-racist rebel (Billy Thompson), and were recruited to strike a blow against the oppressive aristocracy by planting DIY explosives. After our chrono-excursion, we all regrouped to exchange intel and witness a final incident that forced us to reconsider the entire pseudo-historical record.
The War is more akin to a live-action role-playing game than a stage show; think of it as ultra-low-fi virtual reality. The concept is really exciting, but the execution could still use some tweaking. I found the acting style — in which performers pantomime along to prerecorded audio without moving their lips — unnerving in an uncanny valley way. Technical limitations require teams to time-travel sequentially instead of simultaneously, so much of the running time is spent killing time waiting for others. And the tone teeters uneasily between campy satire and a serious exploration about how history is manipulation by the powerful. But for allowing me to live out my future-war freedom fighter fantasies — if only for a few few minutes — I grant Phoenix Tears an honorable discharge.
The War: An Immersive Audio Drama
Phoenix Tears Productions
In front of Orlando Rep Main Entrance
Ages 13 and up
Friday, May 17th 8:00PM
Saturday, May 18th 8:00PM
Sunday, May 19th 6:00PM
Wednesday, May 22nd 7:00PM
Friday, May 24th 8:00PM
Saturday, May 25th 8:00PM
Sunday, May 26th 6:00PM
Monday, May 27th 2:00PM