Back in the late 70s, I was invited to a house party filled with like-minded people and by the end of the night, through the use of my spy skills, was somehow recruited into the CIA. And now here we are, five years later (in the totally rad year of 1982) and my skills are being put to the test again at that very same house. But this time…things are different.
Though I was late to the party for Spy Brunch LLC’s original installment of Safehouse ’77 (I didn’t wind up going until the third and final remount), I fell in love with the show. It was smart, fun, and wildly different than most immersive shows I had seen up until that point. So when they announced a sequel, you’re damn right I jumped on the chance to see it right away. But with the decades moving along, how has the spy game changed?
With Safehouse ’82, Spy Brunch LLC managed to take the thrill and political intrigue of the original and ride that new wave into the totally tubular 1980s for a show that hits all the satisfying beats. It was fun, it had plenty of challenges to keep us busy, and I had an absolute blast. The story is DENSE, with more plot points stuck in its 2-hour running time than I could possibly keep track of, but it’s all doled out in a way that makes it easily digestible.
Written by Nick Rheinwald-Jones and Katelyn Schiller, the show really packs a punch. There were so many twists and turns throughout it that it really makes you ride an emotional roller coaster. Big reveals and fantastic moments are spread throughout, and it did feel like a real-life spy game. There was so much going on, and while it is nearly impossible for you to consume it all in a single showing, I never felt like I was missing out on something. Every action and mission given to participants felt important and served the larger goal of the overall story, so you didn’t mind do ABC while someone else was doing XYZ.
Seeing the characters from the original show come back and understanding the life changes they went through was great. The fallout of the original show is still felt pretty hard here, and while there IS something of dire importance that needs to be accomplished, there are still plenty of quiet character moments to help fill in the gaps.
Without giving too much of the plot away, you find yourself back at Sharon’s pad. Revealed as “Daddy” at the end of ’77, she has called you back to action to help her out with a brand-new mission. As a spy thriller, the show also employs some fantastic tricks and tools of the decade to fully get you into the 80s. You want to use a handheld radio to search for bugs? Done! You want to take a crack at using an official CIA computer (an old working Apple, complete with floppy discs)? You got it. You want to listen to all the hits of the era? Well, turn up that stereo! It was really awesome to FEEL like I was in the 80s and get some hands-on time with some of the tech as well. And while all of that was great, it was the actors that truly made this story come to life.
Lauren Hayes’ Margery sets the tone of the evening perfectly. Hayes hit a delicate stride between being a genius AND socially awkward quite nicely, and interactions with her were definitely a highlight of the entire show. It was kind of fun to watch her get overwhelmed by the events of the evening and try to regain composure by doing the one thing she COULD have control over; pouring drinks for people. It was such a tiny moment, but it spoke volumes about her character.
Katie Rediger returned as Sharon, and it was great to see her character change. While she was sort of meek and mild during ’77 (because she had to hide her true self), it was great to see her fully embrace her role of the leader of this rag-tag group of misfits. She is a take no bullshit type of person, and it was a treat to watch her work through this particular ‘case’ to get to the bottom of it. Smart, in-control, and a total bad ass.
Shoshanna Green’s Carlotta was great to interact with, and I shared one of those quiet character moments with her. Among the chaos of the evening, we had a lovely conversation about what she had been up to since the last time I saw her. I learned about her family, and in turn, her motivation for being there that very night. It was a very in-depth backstory, and I was impressed at the emotional turmoil she was quietly going through, among everything else.
Katelyn Schiller as Sonya was a delight as well. A little kooky and out there, she also takes her job very seriously. She also had one of the best entrances for a character I had EVER experienced before…kicking ass, taking names, and not even breaking a sweat. Later on, before I embarked on a secret mission outside the home, she took me and another guest aside to help us prepare for it. The three of us, nestled away in a bedroom, was one of the most fun interactions of the evening (and actually gave me a little bit of a life skill to use later on).
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with Nick Rheinwald-Jones’ Max, Ashley Jones’ Connie, or Paul Bugallo’s Paul, but the moments I did spend with them were memorable.
This show is literally packed with bad-ass women, in the both a literal and figurative sense. It was actually REALLY refreshing to see this and quite empowering. Kudos to Spy Brunch LLC for going this route, because it’s not something you often see, let alone in immersive shows.
Safehouse ’82 was a literal blast from the past, and I loved every single minute of it. It took everything I loved about the original, and turned it up a notch. Even if you weren’t present for the events of ’77, this is a must see for fans of immersive theater. If you ever wanted to live out a mini-James Bond-esque fantasy, especially one set in the 80s, I highly recommend checking it out.
This run is currently sold out, but don’t you worry, a remount will be sure to follow. Keep an eye out for an announcement and visit them online at: https://www.safehouse82.com/