Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand. For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
To The Wild is a journey into the life of a forlorn musician and his sister as they each struggle over the heartbreak of lost love. Adapted from the works of William Butler Yeats, Shine On Collective presents a modern take on a classic folk tale—a folk tale that warns of a mischievous darkness that lurks beneath the surface of various pleasures. Grab a drink from the bar and join Shine On for an enchanting evening.
The night began as the audience was introduced to the actors. This created a sense of familiarity and safety between cast and participants. Yet, that calm was quickly broken when a blue sprite and her entourage of dancing fae folk emerged into this world. The lonely musician was the first to approach them, and the room was split into thirds. We were no longer in a brewery; we were now in a world of fairies: drinks were shared and tales were told as we were engulfed in the wonder presented.
Taking full advantage of its location, guests began their night in the storage area of a working brewery, complete with employees entering and exiting the stage. Lyric pages, drawings, and keepsakes littered the tables and hinted at a lost life for those willing to look hard enough. With dartboards lining the walls and kegs stacked to the ceiling, the main room set the stage for the musician, who was clearly upset with the disconnect between the bar and the main area. The main atmosphere played to the narrative—dimly lit areas allowed for intimate encounters, and the stage expanded as the night continued, allowing for more exploration and discovery.
The main success of the show was its performers. They provided an empathetic focal point in which the audience could connect with and feel their heartbreak. The troupe of fairies shined during multiple one-on-one interactions, as audience members were mischievously snatched away. These provided intimate monologues that carried the narrative. At one point, I was taken away to a secret room and was given the opportunity to learn of a secret magic that would be bestowed upon me if I completed a specific task. This private piece of the narrative installed a feeling of importance onto me, and the object I was given was an important piece of the storyline later.
However, despite the wonderful acting, the format prevented a true connection between audience and actor and impeded interactivity that deviated from the script. With only short interactions with the various characters, some of the more emotionally charged scenes fell flat to the audience. Expecting a heartfelt moment, the audience remained quiet. The VIP experience helped develop this connection, but those without it did not have the opportunity to connect with character motivations. Further, there were key moments in which the audience knew what the outcome should be, but the actor resisted until the story had progressed. Some improvisation and freedom to deviate from script would help make these interactions more natural and organic. These short breaks in the immersion were not enough to ruin the show, but simply provide an opportunity to improve in the future.
With To The Wild, Shine On Collective experimented with a magical concept and innovated upon a classic theme. The amazing performances of their actors carried the show throughout the night by elevating audience spirits and transporting them into a strange and colorful world. Although the character interactions could be improved upon, they were still memorable. We look forward to our next journey into the world of Shine On and the strong themes that populate it.