Red House. Art: James Templeton
If you were unaware, Houston has a pretty heavy amount of immersive theater. While most of these are escape rooms, the team at Dinolion has been working on immersive theater productions for a couple of years. Last year, they brought us the town of Blaine, Illinois, recreating the film Waiting For Guffman. While there were plans for another immersive film experience, that was shelved and they’ve since been hard at work on what would become Red House. While the idea was spawned last year, what’s in store has pretty much been a mystery for the ultra limited engagement taking place April 27 through April 30.
The press release for the event truly offered more questions than answers. Described as “an immersive memory through a glass, darkly,” Jeromy Barber of Dinolion says, “I wouldn’t call it a play, I wouldn’t call it a musical or a concert. I wouldn’t call it a dance piece. I wouldn’t call it a live action game or a choose your own adventure. But it is all of those things depending on how you engage with the piece.”
To give you a bit of some backstory here, I have visited two escape rooms here in Houston, both with Barber. While the first one seemed less impressive than the second, it definitely seemed to delight Barber in how truly immersed we became within the world we were placed. The second one, The Man From Beyond: Houdini Seance Escape Room, was more elaborate with such attention to detail that Barber and myself both found it to be very beautiful and profound in its elemental demonstration.
Red House. Photo: Dinolion
While Red House will not be an escape room, it should be lush with detail and full of mystery that every ticket holder will have to lose themselves in. With music from Black Kite, as well as Anthony Barilla, Cathy Power, and Chris Bakos, the narrative of “something dark growing beneath Red House” will also showcase the talents of a small group. Physical movements from Connor Walsh, Shu Kinouchi, and Marcus Pontello under the direction of Oliver Halkowich of the Houston Ballet, the idea of the piece transcends the traditional format of live performance. Barber will be joined with direction from LIMB as well as poet Traci Lavois Thiebaud. Red House also promises to have many technical installations in a collaboration between James Templeton and Ronald L. Jones, Alex Ramos, Ryan Meeker, Noah Wight, Michea Arritola, and Josh Allen.
Red House. Photo: Dinolion
What is Red House? There’s no way of telling, honestly, though considering those involved and the behind the scenes work I’ve seen, it looks and sounds like something everyone in Houston should experience for themselves. I would suggest letting go of your inhibitions, leaving your cellphone in the car, and letting Red House become your world for the time that you’re in it.
The performances are at a secret location, revealed when tickets are purchased. Doors each night are at 7:45 pm and 10:45 pm, and the doors will be closed and locked promptly for the 8 pm and 11 pm shows. The 17 & up event has since sold out, but they may be releasing an ultra limited amount of tickets between $35 and $50.