A Storm Breaks: A Recollection of ALL Tracks in The Speakeasy Society’s The Vow

Below is recollection of The Speakeasy Society’s The Vow. This is a full spoiler walkthrough. As there were four main faction-driven tracks for this experience, the overall experience will be recollected through a Blue (Revolt) lens, with diverging sections denoted by a colored title. Again, this is a review of ALL tracks in The Vow; please read on and learn what happened to other factions during the royal wedding. For our review only of The Vow, click here.

 

 

EVERYONE – BLUE PERSPECTIVE

Blue (Revolt) provided by Cristen Brinkerhoff

I know I need to find General Jinjur even before the reception begins.  As a member of Revolt, I’ve long known that The Scarecrow King is a cruel dictator, who’s run Oz under a tyrannical thumb for far too long, a twisted man who’s banished magic from a world born of magic. Tonight we put an end to it—some way, somehow.  I came as the invited guest of Special Officer Phoebe Daring and the Scarecrow King to their wedding, but I’m not wearing green as Scarecrow had requested.  No, I’m in blue—Revolt colors—so my fellow recruits, and most importantly Jinjur, will know who’s side I’m on.  I’m eager to take part in the plot to overthrow Scarecrows, but not yet; first I need to play along, mingle, grab some hors d’oeuvres, and find Jinjur before anyone sees through her disguise.

 

The church doors open promptly at 8pm and I step into a courtyard that features some of the oddest decor I’ve ever seen at a wedding.  Picture frames in trees, bags of rice being thrown in lieu of bean bags in a game of Cornhole (I later learn it’s because us Kansans “love to throw rice at your weddings,”) and an actual children’s book being used as a guest book.  I sign, of course, complimenting The Scarecrow on his selection of light refreshments.   Obligations done, I scan the crowed and I see her at last; she’s there in a curly black wig and smart white skirt-suit, lace gloves over her delicate fingers, prim, friendly but unmistakably Jinjur.

 

I step up to her and she shakes my hand violently (another “Kansan” tradition,) and introduces herself as Jelly Jam, wedding planner.  She smiles and compliments me on my shirt, “I love this blue, do you mind if I just take a look at it under the light?”  She hooks her arm in mine and leads me from the crowd, dropping her voice as soon as we’re far enough away. “I hope you understand what an honor it would be, should you be asked to serve,” she explains, “when the time comes during the ceremony…I’ll need you to raise your voice with me, do you remember the song?”  Yes, and we sing it quietly together, “All Hail Gilikin,” the defiant declaration. 

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

Christie Harms as Jelly Jam/General Jinjur

 

Before I leave her, I whisper one last thing, a code I’d uncovered through a series of puzzles Jinjur had laid out for her recruits over the previous months.  I am a bluebird.  She smiles conspiratorially and hands me a blue clockwork pin and a card with coordinates on it, telling me not to go tonight, but soon. I tell her I’ll see her in church.

 

I mingle for a little while longer until Jack, the timid prisoner I’d met along with his friend Tick at The Invitation some months ago, pulls me aside and says he hopes that if Revolt has anything planned to ruin the wedding, no harm will come to him. I assure him we’re here to help him as much as anyone else, and he seems relieved.  Meanwhile, The Lion slinks through the crowd, eyeing all of us hungrily and with great interest, as does The Wizard, Oscar Diggs, though the way he frequently pulls on his flask and sneers at the crowd seems to betray his true feelings on this “joyous” occasion—apparently Phoebe invited him herself out of spite.  Behind the guestbook, Jo Files sets a steely expression, and if expecting trouble at any moment.  I’ll learn later that he’s had his fair share of it himself, recently. 

 

Finally, there’s Dorothy Gale, seated in effect as a display piece, smiling sickly whilst flanked by a nervous, restless Phil Daring.  The Wizard approaches her, cackling that he was sure she’d be killed and how nice it was to see her, but gets no response.  Phoebe Daring, joining the guests at last, commands Dorothy to stand and shake Diggs’ hand and she does, albeit robotically.  Diggs whirls on Phoebe, “Is she drugged?”  Phoebe laughs through her teeth. “No!  She was ill…I’m making her better,” she waves him off and asks Dorothy if she’d like to make a speech.  I can almost hear the Old Dorothy struggling to break free of whatever is dulling her—her speech is painful to listen to.

 

I am honored to be here this evening, and I’m so grateful everyone has been so worried and concerned for me, I’m fine, thank you. The truth is: I was ill when I ran away from Oz…Phoebe has been helping me recover… I am almost back to my old self again.  But tonight is not about me; tonight is about Phoebe and his Majesty the Scarecrow King, my good friend. So everyone, please raise your glasses: to Phoebe and the Scarecrow King, my good friend. To a glorious union.

 

By the time she stiffly lifts her glass to the air, I am seething.  I know my purpose here tonight is to help Revolt overthrow Scarecrow, but I hope there’s something that can be done for poor Dorothy by the time all this is over.  I return to the reception and continue to wait in dread for the Ceremony.

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

Author Cristen and Jack Sullivan with Dorothy and Phil

 

I decide to chat up Diggs while I have the chance, clinking my glass against his flask. “Cheers,” he says, and leaning in closer “Blue…you’re with Revolt?” I nod. I was a fool to expect solidarity from him, however. He scoffs, says he assumes we’ve got some “demonstration” planned, and insists we leave him out of it.   He starts to give me a spiteful message for Glinda, Revolt’s seemingly absent leader, but stops himself “don’t tell her anything. If she’s got any sense whatsoever, she’ll be far away from here.”  I suspected this wasn’t the case, and as I learned from a fellow Revolt member, I was quite right.

 

 

BLUE – ASIDE

Special thanks to Lia Wollman for this recap of her Revolt track

Lia went to speak with Jinjur just as I had, but Jinjur asked her if she’d met Glinda tonight, to which she, shocked at the question, said no.  Why would Glinda be here?  Jinjur motioned for Lia to go to a large filagreed door behind the bar and knock three times. As quickly as she did, the door popped open, and there stood the Tin Man, to guide her into the church proper.  

 

They sat for a while, and here he explained the real plan Revolt had for the evening; not just some “demonstration” as Diggs supposed, no—we were going to kill the Scarecrow King.  He asked if she was willing to do anything for the cause, and she said yes.  Tin Man then led her up a narrow flight of stairs into Phoebe’s dressing room, where Glinda hid, waiting for her moment to strike.

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

James Cowan as Tin Man

 

Glinda repeated the Tin Man’s question: “Are you willing to do anything for this cause?”  and added “Why would you do this for me?”  Lia responded that she wanted change in Oz, and that she saw it in Glinda. 

 

“That means more than you can ever know,” the once-good witch responded, leading her to a thin window that overlooked the pulpit of the church.  She asked Lia if she really knew why she was here, and then lifted a burlap sack to reveal an ornate clockwork gun, enormous and beautiful. She said The Lion stole this for Revolt from Jo Files’ Gun Tree (there’s that trouble he found himself in), and showed Lia how to aim it.

 

“After the vows, The Scarecrow King will be standing there in a white tuxedo, and I want you to shoot him when I count to three,” she instructed, “you may not be chosen, but I want you to know how to do this.”  She sent Lia away with a message for Jinjur: Glinda can fly.

 

The Tin Man led her back to the large door to mingle back into the reception, telling her she could alternately let Jinjur know the Axe is ready—perhaps meaning he’d prefer to do the deed himself.  Lia found Jinjur outside and was ushered back into the crowd to wait for the coming, and soon to be fateful vows.  Scarecrow would die by gunshot tonight, and she had just been trained to pull the trigger.

 

 

GREEN – ASIDE

Green (Scarecrow’s Militia) provided by Taylor Winters

I find Jo Files nestled behind the guestbook. I grab a pen and write a congratulatory message to my king, the Scarecrow, a man I’ve followed for the past two years despite never meeting in person. But today is his wedding to Phoebe Daring, and I’ve worn my best green suit in support.

 

“Hmm. You’re wearing green. Why don’t you come with me?”

 

Files wastes no time and leads me back to a church antechamber. The room is quaint but royal. Two plush couches sit opposite each other with a large, impressive desk at the room’s head. On the back of the desk’s chair is a white tuxedo jacket—the Scarecrow King’s tuxedo jacket.

 

I see him for the first time: slender and tall, regal and composed, sunken eyes and an unmistakable scar across his forehead from where he earned his intelligence. He wears all white: white shirt, white vest, white pants, and white shoes. He looks almost innocent.

 

“At ease, everyone.”

 

His voice is commanding and firm. He hands each of us a glass of champagne, a reward for our loyalty.

 

“I know the groom is not supposed to be seen until the ceremony…,” he begins to say, but we interrupt him. “It’s the bride, your highness; the bride isn’t supposed to be seen until the ceremony.” He eyes shift back and forth, confused. Maybe his brain isn’t perfectly intact after all—or maybe he just sees himself as the bride. Either way, he accepts his mistake. “Well, Phoebe was adamant about it. We’re trying so hard to do this the Kansas way. The right way. Let’s keep this between us. Our little secret.”

 

He expresses his pleasure in meeting us and how much our loyalty means to him in these troubled times. We cheers our champagne and drink. Bubbly, yet dry.

 

He asks another solider and I to help him with his coat. As the other buttons his sleeves, I grab his elegant coat and slip each arm into it. His all-white tuxedo is complete.

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

Writer Taylor with Dorothy and Phil

 

“May I ask you all a question?” he asks us. We nod, and he responds, “Why did you join my militia?”

 

We each respond in turn. With answers ranging from his ability to restore peace to his strength and intelligence as a leader. A familiar voice is heard outside—it’s Dorothy, more monotone than the last time I met her. But I don’t concentrate on her, the Scarecrow is still talking.

 

“Did you know I never wanted to be king?”

 

Well, that’s not exactly true.

 

He tells us a story. A story of a time before he was the Scarecrow, a time when he was a farmer in Munchkin, a time when The Wizard first landed in Oz and was looking for new recruits for his militia. The Scarecrow, tired of his mundane life, wanted to join. His father wouldn’t stand for it. He called the Scarecrow a fool. No, wait, his father said more:

 

“I swear on your mother’s grave, I would have bashed your head in if I knew you’d grow up to be such a fool.”

 

“I thought the world ended when I heard those words.” With nothing left to lose, The Scarecrow walked the entire way from Munchkin to the Emerald City and joined the Armed Militia. He swore an oath to The Wizard.

 

Some choices are mistakes.

 

The Wizard’s Armed Militia was at war with the Wicked Witch of the West. The Scarecrow found himself at Lake Orizon, a thick mist hanging in the air. Soon a Quiberon was upon his unit. For those of you unfamiliar with a Quiberon, it’s a ferocious aquatic sea-dragon that breathed flame and sulfurous black smoke. Within seconds, half of his men were incinerated. Several more were crushed to death by the weight of the monster. With three men left out of a hundred, they were able to kill the beast.

 

Another voice is heard outside, shouting. It’s Mr. Diggs, the very Wizard the Scarecrow is talking about, shouting drunkenly at the crowd outside. But the Scarecrow continues his story.

 

“They left me for dead. But I didn’t die. My recovery was slow and painful. It changed me.”

 

He returned to his farm, but it was all burnt down. For his father, no burial, no grave—nothing but ash. Ash and corn.

 

Then came Dorothy. She gave him a purpose: to dismantle and rebuild the world as he rebuilt himself as the Scarecrow.

 

Together with the Tin Man, the Lion, and Dorothy, he was able to overthrow The Wizard, the man he’d sworn his life to. The people wanted her to be queen, but she just wanted to go home. So, he took the throne. He banned magic to end the suffering—and even Glinda showed support, before she threatened war. But then Dorothy left.

 

Enemies approached from all sides, so he did what he had to; he ordered the Ozoplane strike on Glinda’s castle.  How was he to know her people were hiding inside?

 

“The king can’t feel pain or doubt his choices!!” he screams. It’s the first time I hear any emotion from him all night. A crack in his emotionless façade.

 

He admits that it was wrong to ask us to bring Dorothy to him, dead or alive. He considered abdicating the throne and giving it to her, but all that made her special is now gone. Now she’s just a lit match.

 

The anger shifts to a new emotion. “Phoebe told me not to tell anyone,” he says, a little more hopeful, excited now. “We were in the palace garden, and she told me ‘I’m with child.’”

 

He pauses. “That was the day I wanted to be king.”

 

Oz is made of straw—ready to burn at any moment. “All I fear is a lit match. I have to keep that match, and those who start fires, far from my legacy. Those are your orders.”

 

We stand, shake our king’s hand, and exit back into the courtyard.

 

 

EVERYONE – BLUE PERSPECTIVE

As Lia blends back in and Taylor takes his first pass at the dessert table, Phoebe begins to gather everyone to her for a re-Ceremony speech. She welcomes us all to her wedding day, congratulating us on a job well done as “recruits” to her and Scarecrow’s cause.  They’ve chosen to have the wedding here in Kansas as a reward to us all, though our job is far from done.

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

John McCormick as Mr. Diggs/The Wizard

 

She points out The Wizard, insisting that she’d invited him to “leave the past in the past,” her apparent joy coming off not so much infectious as pretentious. I find myself sure that Diggs had only been invited for Phoebe’s amusement, to rub her victory in his face.  Why he accepted is more of a mystery—though he did say he’d come for the free booze.

 

Once inside the church, we sit in color coordinated rows as the wedding party enters.  Files, frantically waving the flag of Oz; Phil and Dorothy, his nervous demeanor offset by the wooden way she launches flower petals down the aisle; Lyman, the well-loved gatekeeper to the world of Oz and officiant for this evening; and finally Scarecrow himself, resplendent in the promised white tuxedo and crown, his sunken eyes dragging across his constituents.

 

Scarecrow’s words to Phoebe are surprisingly earnest—perhaps there is a genuine affection there—while Phoebe merely seconds him without sharing her own feelings.  Likewise, when tradition calls for words from the relatives of the newlyweds, Scarecrow admits he has no family save his bride, and Phoebe cuts woefully short what promised to be a heartfelt speech from Phil in her favor. Only Lyman’s excitement is a bright spot in an awkward ceremony, though he’s eventually rushed along by the couple, eager to get to the next step. 

 

That next step is a church-wide rendition of the Hymn “There’s a Jewel in the City,” a song many of us have heard sung in video missives and “recruitment” materials sent our way from Oz this past year.

 

There’s a jewel in the city/and it shines with beauty bright/It has to be protected/so we all must join the fight…

 

The vows themselves are simple, pledges of love, devotion, and honor. They kiss chastely as we burst into applause…

 

And then the shot rings out.

 

Scarecrow crumples to the ground and Jelly Jam, ripping her wig off to reveal the red hair we’ve always know was there, jumps onto the pew, inciting all of Revolt to raise their voices with her. “For Gilikin” she screams, and we burst into a new song as one.

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

Glinda’s Gun

RED TRACK

Red (Patchwork Resistance) provided by Lisa Peters.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife”.

 

The next thing I hear is the thunder-crack of a single gunshot. The sound echoes throughout the church and I see the groom, the Scarecrow King, fall to the ground. I have little time to take in more of the scene because the congregation is in commotion. People are shouting and running for cover. There is panic all around me. I hear Phil Daring shouting to us, members of the Patchwork Resistance, that we must hide and protect Dorothy. Tick and Jack join us and we quickly move to the front of the church and cross the sanctuary, staying low in case the shooter decides to pick a second target. We make our way down a hallway and, as I run, I hear the anthem of Oz playing softly somewhere, as if in a dream, or another time.

 

Kansas Collection, Speakeasy Society, the Vow, immersive theatre, sandbox style, sandbox, wizard of oz, dorothy, scarecrow, ozma, fantasy, non-horror

 

We reach an open doorway and push through it to find ourselves in the church kitchen. We crouch low to the ground, crowded together behind the metal prep tables in an effort to remain unseen. Looking around the room, I catch a glimpse of Jack. His gentle eyes are wide with fear and confusion. Tick is also clearly terrified. Phil pulls something from his pocket and frantically instructs Jack to administer it to Dorothy. Jack is unsure, but manages to get Dorothy, shaken as she is, to swallow the pill.

 

Phil begins to pace, his eyes frantic and searching.

 

Tick nervously asks Phil, “What should we do?”

 

No response.

 

Tick asks again, more desperately, “What’s the plan, Phil?”

 

Phil stammers, “I… I’m thinking!”

 

“Well, think faster!”, Tick urges.

 

Phil pleads, “I’m doing the best I can!”.

 

“THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!”, Tick shouts, pounding the table with his fist, his voice reverberating against the metal surfaces.

 

The impact of Tick’s words hit Phil like a gut-punch. He collapses to the ground in a broken heap and huddles, sobbing in a fetal position, as the consequence of his incompetent leadership sinks in.

 

Suddenly, we are aware of a firm yet soothing female voice in the room. It’s Dorothy, who has awakened from her trance and is attempting to calm Tick. Once Tick has begun to breathe normally and gather his wits, Dorothy helps Phil up off the floor. She takes a breath assesses the situation.

 

“Phil, What’s the Plan?”

 

Phil tells her “The whole building is in lockdown and there’s no way we can all escape now. I shouldn’t have told us to run. That was stupid.”

 

Dorothy looks around at us. “Is this is? Is this all that’s left of Patchwork?”

 

When this elicits more arguing from Tick & Jack, she decides to take a different, more stoic approach.

 

“Problems are best solved on your feet. I’ve run away from mine for too long, and now I’m going to be ready for when they come. So I’m trying to remember something and I need your help.” She exhales. “Right before I was drugged I was holding onto the thread of an idea and I don’t know…I seem to have let go of it…it was about the old prophecies.”

 

She asks if any us recall what those prophecies foretold of the rightful ruler of Oz. As she speaks, Tick grows anxious again. He clearly has something to share but hesitates. Dorothy encourages him to speak and he tells a story:

 

A long time ago, before Mombi and the witches, people of the old religion they had these quilts. The patterns of them were made from the ancient texts. Then the winds changed and Oz became unsafe and so they took apart these quilts. They took them apart and then they hid them in these patches. My family, they were true believers of the old religion and once they found out that the religion had been corrupted by the government, they went searching for these patches for answers. My great grandmother, my grandmother, they passed down these patches in order to… people died looking for these. People died. Oz is forgotten but they remain.

 

He fidgets, guilt in his voice.

 

“I was supposed to take my vows. I was going to join the orders of the ring. She said that she couldn’t think of anyone else to protect the past and future of Oz…my family died protecting these.”

 

He tentatively pulls a small stack of red calico squares from his jacket pocket and gently hands them to Dorothy. As Dorothy lays the squares upon the metal table, I see that each one is embroidered in beautiful and ornate script. The words on the patchwork tell a story: war, wake, princess, protect, peace.

 

Phil’s memory returns to him and he recalls the story of the Lost Princess, who was prophesied to be the rightful and true ruler who would bring peace to the land of Oz.

 

“King Pastoria…had a daughter: Ozma, the Princess of Oz. He wanted to keep her safe.The king, he hid his only daughter, the rightful heir to the throne, inside a fold of time. He adds: ‘Ozma was lost but the Lost Princess will return again.”

 

Tick confirms the prophecy: “The Lost Princess will return, and peace will follow in her wake.”