Absorption (noun): An assimilating or incorporating or receiving something from the outside. When there is a change in medium and one substance takes on another; the emitted transmission is thus changed. Light is wholly absorbed.
It’s been a long journey, but we have finally reached the end of unweaving the rainbow. After months of learning more about ourselves, and the different processes in which light, and we, can go through, we have been absorbed by the armless hugs of ALONE, INC., and have learned much more about them in the process.
It’s difficult to review this sort of experience without giving some of it away (though I will do my best not to), especially when it’s one that has, quite literally, been a journey for me. Since I’ve moved out to California, ALONE has been my favorite experience when it comes to interactive, immersive theater. The stories and situations they have created have been extremely thought provoking, full of surprises, and really quite enjoyable.
For this particular instance, ALONE has created a satisfying conclusion to their months-long Unweave the Rainbow storyline, while also opening the door for next year’s events. And while being a die-hard fan of all ALONE has offered over the years certainly helps, you by no means have to be steeped in their lore to have a good time at Absorption.
Friday evening marked their Opening Ceremonies, where those invited were able to experience it before it opened to the general public the day after. While some opening nights are hit or miss, as far as experiences like this are concerned, I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth everything was running for us. While the reception for the opening was lively in the back of the location, it was as if the outside world didn’t exist when we were inside. We were truly, just as they wanted us to be, alone.
To back track, we arrived at a building in Los Angeles that, at one time, housed a facility for film processing. Now, across the glass of the front door, is a decal that announces it as ALONE, INC. We checked in, signed our waivers, and waited. While the last few events have had moments were you could work together as a team, this one made it very clear from the beginning that we would be moving through the space by ourselves. Every 5 minutes or so, one of us was escorted into a room to begin the show. We did cross paths from time to time, but for the bulk of the experience, you will be left to your own devices with ALONE, INC.
While Martina, Taylor, and Tay, my three companions who have been with me since the beginning of this storyline, were taken away, I made small talk with others who were waiting. Just beyond the check-in desk was covered by a white sheet, where a light was shining behind it. Every few minutes, a shadow would be seen from the other side, yelling “EMBRACE ME WITH YOUR LIGHT” before a door would slam. For those waiting, it heightened their anxiety. For me, it made me giddy with anticipation.
What was strikingly different in this final index was, where in the past, ALONE has been somewhat abstract in with their locations, this one was firmly grounded in the reality of the corporate world. Stark white colors, workers in shirts and ties, and a working stiff atmosphere in general, were littered throughout the show. You get a hint of this from their advertising, from the photos posted online, to promotional videos they have released, but you get to really experience it while walking through the halls. That’s not to say that there aren’t the typical periods of moving throughout the dark and walking amongst the rainbow; there most certainly are. However, the new environments are a welcome change, and allow you to peek behind the curtain of ALONE, INC.
Without giving too much away, the first three indices were something of an experiment for ALONE, INC.; a process in which to learn more about us, if you will. While the tendrils of this experiment run deeper than you may think, as you will learn throughout the show, it will leave you with a sense of unease, and in a strange way, comfort.
Again, while there are periods of this show that take place in complete darkness, one of ALONE’s greatest strengths is taking that fear of the dark and turning it into something beautiful. As fellow HorrorBuzz writer Taylor stated to me after we went through, there are many times where someone would be fearful of what was to happen in the darkened space, but it sometimes turns into something that will make you laugh, make you smile, or make you just feel. That said, there are still scary moments in the dark. You will be moved, touched, and even grabbed there. There were a few times I was startled by an actor, which is very much expected. But it is by no means the crutch that most experiences such as this lean on; it’s just a small part of what they have to offer.
I’ve said this in previous reviews, but it is worth mentioning that every single person you will interact with throughout the show is fantastic. ALONE has the very best actors in the business, and it shows. Some you will see, some you will not. But each one is memorable. They all go above and beyond with you to play out their scene, and for those brief moments, you are quite literally the only person who exists in their world. It’s like they have been waiting for you, and just you. Something that you need to take to heart is that the experience you get out of the actors is equal to what you put in. My advice? Interact with them. Trust me. They love it when you do that. I’m not saying to impede whatever bit of storytelling they are trying to impart. I’m just saying to play into it with them.
For example and this is a very, very, very minor spoiler, but at one point I was roaming a hallway with multiple doors. An ALONE, INC. employee opened one for me, and I found Martina inside, standing near a man sitting at his desk. He was applying something to his face, and instead of being a passive observer, Martina said “Can I help?” And the man was delighted as we both helped him along in his process. It was a small, simple moment, but it was one of the many beautiful ones that ALONE creates that was made all the more enjoyable by our involvement.
Which brings me to another point to hit on; while the story ALONE tells is very linear, the path in which you get absorb it this time around, pardon the pun, is not. In some ways, Absorption is like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels. You are given choices throughout your adventure, and I urge you to explore within the guidelines they give you. The things you discover along the way will only enhance your experience, and help you learn more.
This is the first key for the mini-scavenger hunt. Visit their Facebook page to use the knowledge.
Speaking of discovering, there is a lot here for long-time ALONE fans. Things all come together in a big way, and it really is worthwhile to take in your every surrounding. To borrow a phrase from last year’s Halloween event, “it’s never over,” and that is fully on display here. Even if you haven’t been following ALONE’s story lines for the past few years, I urge you to complete their mini-scavenger hunt they set up for Absorption. It is not necessary, of course, but at the end of it, you receive something that you can use while in Absorption to get a nice, healthy dose of storytelling that hardcore ALONE fans will not want to miss.
Overall, Absorption was a wonderful way to close out their Unweave the Rainbow storyline, while tying so many past things together, and allowing the story to continue into whatever they have in store for us next. The 45 minutes you’ll spend within the halls of ALONE, INC. will be some of the most enjoyable this season. ALONE’s cast, crew, and creators continue to create fantastic narratives with their beautifully surreal scenes. Despite the fact that it is the Halloween haunt season, don’t go in expecting to be scared the entire time. Go in to see one of the strangest, most immersive, and wonderful things you will ever experience. It is well worth your time, worth every second. I’ve sung their praises in every review so far this year, and I’ve meant every word. ALONE is an incredible experience, and there is no time like the present to see it for yourself.
We’ve been absorbed.
We’ve been diffused. We’ve been refracted. We’ve been reflected. And now, we’ve been absorbed. We’ve unwoven the rainbow, and have peeled back another layer of ALONE, and ourselves, in the process. And as I impatiently wait for the next step, I remember that, with ALONE, it’s not over.
It’s never over.
ALONE: Index of Absorption runs dates from October 17th through November 1st. For tickets, and more information, visit their website at www.thealoneexperience.com.
Jeff Heimbuch writes. A lot. On a variety of things and in different mediums. He also created the fiction podcasts LIGHT HOUSE and RETURN HOME (of which you can find both on all podcasting platforms), loves all things horror, works in social media, and is probably writing something right now. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok at @jeffheimbuch.