A particular highlight of this year’s Midsummer Scream was They Played Production’s Captivated: Mike, an interlude of sorts to bridge the gap between the first and second chapters of their three-part Captivated series. This convention-sprawling piece picks up after the events of Captivated: Justine. We stopped by comic artist Drew Rausch’s One Stop Spooky Shop booth and mentioned to a girl in a purple wig that we wanted to “get blood from a stone,” thus beginning a journey that would fling us to all corners of the con.
After leaving the booth, we went to find Mike Stone, a character Justine attendees already knew, to get more information. Something’s not right between Ely and his wife Justine, Mike said—and a dozen girls like her have gone missing and he suspects Ely had a part in this. In order to help, we needed to find either Ely or Thea (the newly revealed assistant to Ely’s friend, Victoria) and trick them into saying certain key words on tape that Mike’s hacker friend could then hopefully use to unlock the double authentication required on their computers.
This next portion of the show seemed daunting at first, but ended up being a hilarious exchange, thanks in no small part to the improvisational skills of Erik Blair, cofounder of They Played Productions, who plays Ely. We ended up genuinely surprised at the things we could entice someone to say with the right set-up.
Reporting back to Mike with our recordings in hand, he instructed us to meet back where we found him at 5:30pm, near the close of the convention for the day. A sizable group of would-be sleuths arrived at the designated time only to find Ely who, having grown wise to our machinations, had arrived to defend himself from Mike’s “ridiculous” accusations. Mike was nowhere to be found, but Ely dismissed our suspicions angrily, concluding our impromptu Q&A session with a hope that we’d never see him again—wishful thinking, on his part.
As Ely stormed away, the purple-haired girl from our first stop, having quietly attended with us, stood up from her seat amongst the crowd. She said Mike must have known that Ely was on to him, because he gave her a bag full of envelopes to pass out to everyone who helped him with his reconnaissance. In a clever turn, the enveloped contained “invitations” to Act Two of the Captivated series, Victoria—we were quite literally invited to delve further into the mystery we’d scratched the surface of.
They Played Productions used the Midsummer Scream space wisely, on-boarding new guests into the Captivated world and providing a welcome teaser of what’s to come for prior attendees. Act Two: Victoria is sure to continue this complex, interactive mystery.
Thank you to Taylor Winters for his photography in this article.