The cicadas are singing tonight.
And why shouldn’t they? Though it’s a little chilly, it’s a gorgeous night. But something seems amiss…the Airstream sitting before my companion and I rocks gently in the night. Through the window, we can see a young woman frantically running back and forth, trying to get things together. We knock, and she jumps, startled by our intrusion. She throws open the door, tears streaming down her face as she looks us in the eyes.
“Quickly, come in,” she tells us. “There isn’t much time.”
So begins WHERE THE OTHERS ARE, the latest immersive show from E3W Productions, the powerhouse team that has been making a name for themselves the past few years for their incredibly detailed stories and their incredibly detailed production design. Ever since their debut show of IN ANOTHER ROOM (way back in August 2017), they have been crafting beautiful stories that have stayed with me for some time…and this show is no different.
WHERE THE OTHERS ARE is only different from their past endeavors in that it is more intimate. In the past, a handful of people join you throughout the show, but here, there is only two at a time. This is by design, as most of the show takes place within the walls of a 1980s era Airstream trailer, confining you within its space much like Maggie’s character feels confined in her life. This also allows for some more intimate one on one moments with the show’s two characters, learning a bit more of their backstory over the course of the show’s hour-long run time.
Written by Melissa Hughes, the show is about Maggie and Ben, a married couple that have been on the road, traveling the world in their Airstream for a long time. It is revealed that, for the past several years, Ben has not been the best husband to Maggie He’s abusive, both physically and mentally, and because of that, she lived her life in a state of fear. But when we met Maggie, she isn’t in a rush to leave her husband because of that. No, strangely enough, she’s packing her things to leave him because he got BETTER. He no longer hits her, no longer yells and screams at her. Instead, he loves her the way she has always longed to be…but deep inside, Maggie knows that something is wrong with Ben. This isn’t the man she married. This isn’t even a man at all. He’s something…different.
While ghostly hauntings are usually their MO, E3W went in a more..otherworldly…direction for this show. It was incredibly haunting and struck a fear that I have had since I was a small child. What that fear is, I cannot say for fear of spoilers, but if you see it, you’ll know what I mean.
The story could have been a simple one in lesser hands, but Hughes layers it with insights and small moments that makes this “small” story seem quite large. There are moments when the characters are both present and involving us in the story, there are moments where team seems to freeze while a character lets us in on her intimate thoughts, and there are moments where we spend alone time with one of the characters. But each of these moments is another layer peeled back, revealing more and more of the fractured structure of their marriage beneath. There is really good storytelling on display here.
An emotionally heavy journey, WHERE THE OTHERS ARE is E3W Productions at their absolute best, firing on all cylinders, taking the best elements of show’s past and making them even better. Because the show is so emotionally rough, the show features a rotating cast. The cast on the evening of my show was absolutely stellar.
Terra Strong Lyons’ Maggie was a powerhouse, and I felt every single ounce of emotional regret and resolve from her performance. She really made me feel for her situation, and she ran a gauntlet of emotions during that hour that made my head spin. From a sobbing mess to a fiery rage, Lyons was incredible from start to finish. James Cowan as Ben also blew me away. Cowan always impresses with every role I have seen him in, but he’s even compelling than usual here. I joked last night that I would watch him read a phone book, because THAT’S how good he is. His Ben hits all the right beats of being a perfect husband, but there are still things hidden within that allow you to tell that something is off about him. It’s a delicate balance that Cowan manages to achieve perfectly, and I feel like this is one of his best roles to date.
Not only is the story great and the actors top-notch, but everything else around them continues to excel. The core E3W Productions team of Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling, and Natalie Jones just continue to hone their craft of creating environments that feel authentic and real, while also creating something that feels otherworldly. The Airstream itself, where you spend most of the show, feels lived in. There are little touches all over that make it feel authentic, that showcase Maggie and Ben’s personality, that show that this is a real place…and most of it will never even be noticed by audience members! Not only that, but the…other…locations you will visit really up the ante in turns of theatrical design. E3W is known for this sort of work, but they just keep getting better and better at it with every new show.
There is a lot of technical and audio achievements on display as well, as complex lighting and sound changes litter the show, immersing you further into Maggie and Ben’s world. There are some pretty intricate moments of impeccable timing too, with both the actors and the production team being ON it in terms of changes. It was like living in a movie, where every new moment was seamlessly blended into the next, despite the multifaceted technical stuff going on in the background. Kudos to sound designer Daniel Tator for his work here.
There were so many more standout moments in the show that it is hard to even pinpoint them all without fear of spoiling for others. There is a remembrance of an intimate moment between Maggie and Ben that is relived through a choreographed dance by Brandon Homes. It sounds silly on paper, but it fits so well with the story in actuality. The stunt work, while seemingly minimal on the surface, runs throughout the entire show, and Ana Zimhart did an excellent job of putting it together.
I feel like I could continue gushing about WHERE THE OTHERS ARE for thousands of more words, but again, I don’t want to spoil a thing. However, I will say this: E3W continues to astound with their work and constantly reinvents what immersive could, and should, be.
Go see this show. Its initial run has sold out already (and rightfully so), but lucky for you, an extension as been announced! New dates have been added for April 1st through April 5th, so do not delay. There may be a further extension if the demand is there, and trust me, it will be.
As I left the Airstream, the goosebumps on my skin would not go away. At first, I thought it was because of the night air, but I knew it was because of what I had just witnessed over that past hour. I felt I was let in on one of the universe’s little secrets, and now, I’d be looking over my shoulder because of it. It was then that I realized that the cicadas weren’t singing anymore…they were screaming.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit E3W Productions online at: http://e3wproductions.com/