“Hello! How are you enjoying the neighborhood?” inquired the very polite lady manning the table I was instructed to pick up my bags from.

I stumbled over my words as I tried to formulate a response since I had not physically moved anywhere recently, except maybe from my bed to my desk with the occasional, intense trek to the fridge. But it was after that brief moment of confusion that I realized that my experience with Shine On Collective’s WELCOME HOME had begun with a friendly greeting.

Going into this experience, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it was an experience that came with dinner from the wonderful Side Kitch (and honestly, that was a huge selling point to me). By the time my boyfriend and I picked up the bags and made it home, we were beyond excited. Eating dinner with the bag in front of me was as grueling as eating breakfast before opening presents on Christmas morning as a kid. Despite the inner turmoil, I was able to enjoy my meal.

When buying a ticket for WELCOME HOME, we were provided with a few options for the food portion. I chose the short ribs solely due to the fact that mac and cheese came with it…and boy, was that one of the better decisions I’ve made recently. Side Kitch makes a mean mac and cheese: it was very cheesy and made me very happy. The short ribs were just as amazing, and provided the fuel needed to embark on a tumultuous adventure, because I was not prepared for the whirlwind of a journey that WELCOME HOME put me through.

The box our dinner came with contained all the materials needed for the experience. Every single item in that box was extremely creative and drove the story home. The items all held their own unique purpose that helped to solidify the events as we went through the story.

To progress in the storyline, we had to pay extreme attention to detail. Some moments had us working hard and retracing steps to move forward, and I enjoyed that a lot. Progression was not just handed to us and that was appreciated: we had to work for it.

The storyline as a whole had beautiful highs and lows that captivated us. It is not easy to create stakes for the audience with a remote experience, yet WELCOME HOME drew us in, kept us on the edge of our seats, and left us feeling many different emotions.

I am always impressed when a group manages to create stakes and hit a full range emotions solely through voice. There were moments in WELCOME HOME that utilized strong actors who did exactly that. We were introduced to a variety of characters who all added to the story and had very distinct, separate personalities.

Overall, WELCOME HOME was easily the highlight of this past month for me. The creative geniuses behind Shine On Collective created an enthralling adventure that left me speechless. I highly recommend checking out WELCOME HOME. And if my words haven’t convinced you yet, maybe my boyfriend’s will. When asked how he would describe this experience, he replied with, “Fun and suspenseful.” So, there you have it!

WELCOME HOME is available for delivery and pick up in Los Angeles County. Wednesday, September 16 is the last day to reserve tickets for September 18 & 19. To reserve, visit: https://www.welcomehomeexperience.com/

For more information on Shine On Collective, visit: http://www.shineoncollective.com/