“Eyes open.”

How does one begin to describe CreepLA? It’s a much harder question than I originally thought it would be. Now in its fourth year, the CreepLA shows have become a staple of the Los Angeles Halloween season, and they continue to set the bar for what an immersive experience should, and could, be. They are continually my favorite show of the season, and this year is, without a doubt, their best yet. I feel as if I make this same declaration every year, but it’s true. They somehow just keep pushing the boundaries and manage to create something I did not think possible.

Set amongst the background of ROW DTLA, this year’s show, called AWAKE, is a more abstract, and yet somehow more cohesive story than any that they have told before. It is a show that is a literal waking nightmare, one filled with the type of nightmarish imagery that lurks only in the deepest, darkest recesses of our mind while we are asleep.

This show is a massively different endeavor than any of their other previously staged performances. However, despite their headcount of 25 audience members per showtime, it feels more intimate than ever before, creating a more personal tapestry for every person that walks through their doors.

As you’d expect, there are moments where you will be with a group, large or small. There are moments where you might be alone. There are moments where you will be touched, be lead away, and be thoroughly creeped out. But one thing for sure is that every moment is filled with something that will haunt your dreams.

Somehow, the JFI Productions team have taken images out of their dreams and transplanted them into this show. Early on in the track I saw, a story was told about the nightmares a young woman was having. Using only a flashlight, in a large, darkened room, she managed to convey a feeling of dread with this monologue that put me at such unease that I was quite literally afraid of the darkness around us. One of the things she mentioned that haunted her was a man with long, slender fingers. A great aside, and one that I had thought was simply a throwaway line.

Boy, was I wrong. The sequence continued with such striking visuals that I was certain I had to be dreaming. I do not know how they pull off such incredible visual tableaus, but they make the impossible possible with these sequences.

Speaking of tracks, despite their being 25 of us per performance, we all saw and heard vastly different things. There are so many things to see and do in this show, you’d likely have to attend four times before you’d be able to experience them all. That’s a testament to the show’s writing, being able to break off an audience member’s story into these segmented pieces and still have them feel like they are getting a complete experience.

I want to talk about the sequences I saw, but I’m at such a loss of words to describe them, because even the tiniest tidbit can spoil the fun of you experiencing it yourself. There was so much to take in, my eyes were constantly darting around, looking for more. Even within the larger sequences, there are smaller, intimate moments that you might miss if you don’t happen to look in just the right direction at just the right time. A masked figure wandering through a darkened hallway or a young girl, cradling a baby in a fog entrenched room, are throwaways, sure…but it’s these moments that add so much more to the experience.

But even if you miss those, the focal point of the scenes you will be placed in are incredibly compelling. Every sequence is a gift that you need to unwrap, and one that keeps giving the more you uncover. Suffice it to say that JFI Productions has a knack for telling unique stories and casting the perfect people to bring them to life. Because, seriously, their actors are top notch.

Despite the group setting at times, I really felt like I had a moment with each and every single character in the show. Whether or not they spoke directly to me is irrelevant. With a simple touch or a menacing glance shot in my direction, the actors make it a point to connect with every single person in the room. It’s an ensemble show that feels like a showcase of everyone’s acting abilities. It’s hard to even point out the shining stars here, because each and every single person is so damn good at what they do.

AWAKE allows us to drift in and out of CreepLA’s dreamscape, with our worst nightmares coming to life before our very eyes. It’s unnerving, it’s unsettling, and goddamn, is it good. Really good. AWAKE lives up to its name and kept me awake long after I had left the building. It crawled into my own dreams, and left a lasting impression that I do not expect to leave anytime soon.

AWAKE is a triumph for the JFI Productions team, and shows their continued dedication to incredible storytelling and masterful performance art. It may sound cliché, but AWAKE is a cannot miss show this Halloween season. I’m so happy I already have tickets to return later this month, because there is so much more story I want to see.

If you have not done so already, stop what you are doing, and buy tickets to see CreepLA: AWAKE. Now.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit them online at: http://www.creepla.com/