I see a lot of immersive experiences in Los Angeles, and after a while, some of them start to blend together. They are all interesting and fun in their own way, but sometimes there isn’t enough variety to them to truly make them stand out.
ONE EXIT is one that stands out. Coming from The Halogen Company, this truly unique show blends elements from Sartre’s No Exit and Dante’s Inferno to create an atmosphere that simulates a type of dread that is slowly bubbling over the surface of its container. People have been telling me to go to Hell for years, and if I knew it was going to be this enjoyable, I would have done it much sooner.
Eight guests at time are welcomed into the Underworld by The Valet, a pseudo-Ferryman, who will take us into the depths of Hell. Of course, we’re not alone, as his “creatures” (the best world I can think of for them) are among us, their creepy masks unnerving us further. In addition to them, there are also four other newcomers to Hell, each with their own interesting backstory and secrets.
These characters are introduced to us in a really breathtaking moment upon entering the show’s church location. A combination of carefully timed lighting and music, along with actor’s movements, made for a great way to be thrust into this world. This visually stunning moment really set the tone for the rest of the show.
Shortly after, we were split into small groups, and paired off with not only another participant but also one of the newly deceased residents of Hell. Each of these characters, we come to learn, has their own secrets that come into play later in the show.
I really enjoyed the track I was on, following a young man’s journey to learn more about himself, and in turn, learn from the actions of his past.
This character, played by Chasen Chris, had a lot of heavy lifting to do, and Chris pulled it off nicely. The remorse and regret of his actions were apparent in every moment, as he spent a majority of the show trying to redeem himself. It was very interesting to see how he evolved over the course of that 45 minutes and made me hungry to see the other three character’s tracks as well, just to see more of their own journey into Hell.
We encountered two vignettes before coming back to the main group, and each one was great. Our first, with Matt Vorce, was shocking in more ways than one, as he played a man who was able to make us question our own moral compass. It was sort of Milgram experiment, with our potential actions harming someone else…and it was up to us to decide. Vorce excelled in his monologue here, and really did sway me into a more nefarious decision than I would usually make.
From there, we spent time with a playful man holding court over a feast of sweets, played by James Cowan. His segment was a bit more lighthearted, though still with dangerous consequences, and it was fun to watch him tease and play with his captive audience while we were with him. I’m a fan of riddles, but many of his stumped me. The scene was a nice, subtle way, to learn more about our guides into this world.
As mentioned in their press release, there was an “escape room” element to the show’s end, and while I thought it did an excellent job of tying some prior scenes and personal touches into it, my only real gripe with the show was this section, only because it felt a bit rushed. The characters did not give us time to truly think about the puzzles presented and pushed us toward the answers before we could really have those “aha!” moments. That said, I realize the show is on a schedule and we were near the end of our time there.
Overall, I really thought the story was incredibly strong and the actors really sold it. Again, I loved my track a lot, but would really love to see how the other story lines played out. You only get glimpses into everyone else, but it was enough of a tease to make me want to see more.
I do also want to mention that the church location was the perfect setting for this show, and though small, The Halogen Company made incredible use of their space using some fairly simple techniques. It made not only the space feel larger, but also the story itself…it truly felt like we embarked on a journey into a vast underworld. Helping this along immensely was the lighting design, which was truly stunning in every scene. From the opening reveal in the church, to everything beyond that, it really did feel like an otherworldly adventure.
The Halogen Company has put itself on my list of immersive companies to look for, as this was a impressive immersive debut for them. Hell has never been so enticing, and I cannot wait to see what they do next. Kudos to the entire team on a job well done!
ONE EXIT runs through this weekend only, but some nights are already sold out. Don’t sleep on this, though, try to see it now, or hope for a remount. Tickets are $45, and can be purchased at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4268459
For more information, visit them online at thehalogencompany.com.