If you told me that I would find myself crying in the parking lot of a mall, I would have laughed and said something along the lines of, “Sorry, that was so 10 years ago.” However, Candle House Collective’s CLAWS took me down a winding path of emotions that left me feeling shattered and amazed.

“You believe me, don’t you?”

Danny has a monster in his closet. He doesn’t know what to do next.

Candle House Collective has been creating experiences over the phone for over a year, but I had not yet had the pleasure of experiencing them until now. I was initially skeptical on how a phone experience would go. There are quite a few factors that might prove to be a challenge towards providing a successful experience, such as bad phone signal, background noise, and other distractions. In an email sent prior to the scheduled call, Candle House Collective provided clear instructions on how to have the best experience, such as isolating yourself in a room away from distractions and with good cell service.

The cell service on my block is mediocre at best. So, I decided that the best place to randomly park without raising suspicions was the mall parking lot! A few minutes after getting settled into my new spot, my phone lit up with an incoming call: NO CALLER ID. And as if prior experiences had taught me absolutely nothing, I answered.

CLAWS was like buying something you were excited to get and then being informed at the register that it came with a free gift. The joy that one would experience in that situation was the joy I experienced during and after my call. There was so much more depth to this call than I had ever anticipated.

It isn’t easy to create an atmosphere or world relying solely on voice, and yet Candle House Collective knocked it out of the park. Vincent D’Avanzo (Danny) is a phenomenal, strong actor. He is engaging and the commitment he showed to his role was admirable. D’Avanzo is a powerhouse that drove the show.

I was worried prior to my experience that I would get distracted, but CLAWS was absolutely captivating. It managed to capture my attention and hold it throughout the entire duration of the call. The acting and writing immersed me so well that at one point I had to stop myself from telling Danny that I would just complete an action in the room for him. Obviously, I couldn’t since I was not physically there, but it goes to show just how strong of an image was painted with mere words and tone.

CLAWS was an enjoyable performance that led me through a full range of emotions, while also forcing me to look deeper into myself. These points were orchestrated beautifully throughout my journey and provided moments of clarity, self-reflection, and at times, fear.

Overall, CLAWS impressed me with how much could be accomplished with so little. I was left shattered, yet hopeful, all whilst yearning for more. I highly recommend checking CLAWS and am looking forward to more from the creative minds at Candle House Collective. You could say that they clawed their way into my heart.

CLAWS has been extended through August 30th. For tickets and information, please visit: https://candlehousecollective.com/