Interactive revenge is audience choice
By Nicole Caldwell, GLOB Guest Columnist
EDITOR'S NOTE: Nicole Caldwell is a theater lover with playwriting ambitions. Nicole just graduated from the College of Business and is on the Administrative Staff in the UF Department of Psychology by day. Nicole relishes the idea of slipping off into theater land by night, getting lost in the other world of lights, drama and a compelling story unfolding before her theatrical eyes.
Playwright Matt Cox, Director Kristin McCarthy Parker Producer and UF alum John Arthur Pickard, along with David Carpenter, both of Tilted Windmills Theatricals, return for the third year to the University of Florida to premiere The Magnificent Revengers in...A Choose Your Own Tragedy – A Comedy! with UF's School of Theatre + Dance. Tilted Windmills Theatricals teamed up with Matt Cox, Kristin McCarthy Parker, and UF SOTD in 2015, with Volleygirls and in 2016, with Puffs; or, Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic.
In The Magnificent Revengers, the audience members get to make choices, but those choices come with consequences. The audience members log in to the show, and use their smart phones to make choices, when prompted. The actors then respond to those choices. Will the characters go left or right? Will they buy the boat or not? Who gets the flower? Every choice you make comes with a consequence.
The Magnificent Revengers is set in the Wild West, in a small town called Hope Springs. Solomon Sweet (Chaz May) wants to obtain the oil under the town of Hope Springs. In order to do that, he needs to buy the Kelly farm, but The Cowboy (Jonny Triumph) won't let his family farm go so easily. Solomon Sweet and his accomplices, Mozie Thompson (Thiago Palma) and the Taggart Twins (Kristina Johnson) murder The Cowboy when he won't give up his land.
Dorothy Kelly (Nicole Cannon) sets out on a revenge quest, to avenge her brother's death. Dorothy puts together an eclectic group of eager avengers to assist in her quest. Big Frank (Nick Bublitz) the teddy bear. Donnie MacDonald (William Vonada) and his wife Bonnie (Jordan Sison), the out of work actors, with their own wagon. And Mysterious Stranger (Katherine Haeuser), a bounty hunter.
Dorothy transformed before our eyes, from an innocent farm girl to a fierce gunslinger. Big Frank was endearing and lovable, like a big teddy bear, but also protective and strong when necessary. Donnie had a childlike joy that was contagious. Bonnie was dramatic and adorable. Mysterious Stranger had a tough exterior that hid her gentle soul.
The ghost of Dorothy's brother haunts her throughout, encouraging her when she begins to waver, and pranking her with silly "ghost jokes", as he called them. Mysterious Stranger has her own haunter, Ghost Girl (Emily Lewis), with her own side mission, to avenge Ghost Girl's death.
This cleverly contrived play made the point to the audience every choice you make comes with a consequence. Choose wisely. Variations of those words were displayed on the screen multiple times.
The Revengers had me thinking of the significance of the words and that maybe they weren't just talking about the show. Just like in life, I was a little upset when my fellow audience members chose differently from me.
"I didn't want that to happen! I wanted this to happen instead."After the show, I started wondering, what would have changed had I chosen differently? My friend and I wished we could have had complete control of the audience and watch it over and over again, trying multiple variations of our choices, to see different outcomes.
The acting was tremendous. These School of Theatre and Dance students are some talented kids!
Most of the plays actors played a multitude of characters in the ensemble cast and did a superb job.
The play inlcuded a few songs, as well, and these students can also really sing. William Vonda's voice really surprised me. The Magnificent Revengers was hilarious and kooky. I loved how interactive it was, with the characters high-fiving the audience members, asking them questions, and with the audience voting. My fellow audience members were clearly enjoying themselves, as well. It was a sold out show and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. This is such a cool idea. Could this be the future of theatre?
Maybe. I hope so.