TBD Immersive theatre’s Ouroboros: Dawn of the Cabaret is a lively participatory production full of intriguing characters, activities, and even a small “revolution” that all patrons may join. It’s Clue meets the circus via theatre. Every person will experience a different aspect of the performance. I highly recommend bringing an outgoing friend, and also dressing up a bit as there is also a gods and goddesses theme (seems to be mainly Greek).
The story is a prequel to two past shows by TBD Immersive. The Westcott family is hosting a birthday party for the twin daughters of a wealthy widower. His new wife is the flamboyant leader of the cabaret, but she is loathed by the twins. The show is a set of three storylines: you can follow the patriarch, the twins, or discover a secret society. There are many scripted scenes, but there is also an entire cast of improvisers to enhance the experience, and I enjoyed those interactions the most.
The night began with a glass of champagne and a young woman playing piano in the parlor of The Whittemore House, near Dupont Circle. There, we were greeted by the house staff, and were treated to special performers including a magician, aerial artists, and fire spinners.
From the very beginning I was given a choice: to follow the patriarch for his introductory speech or join the new wife to see fire spinners. At first I wasn’t sure I was making the right choice, as I would miss the first speech of the night and possibly miss the plot. But how often does one get to see fire spinning in such an intimate environment? I chose the latter.
From there on, it became a game of “who is actually an actor here?” because everyone was doing their own thing, and it felt so much like an actual party, and “what’s really going on?” I learned that if you watch certain actors or performers they will come and speak to you to give a special assignment. Since my friend and I were looking for someone specific for a clue and couldn’t find them, we spoke to another actor who then gave us a surprise. The more information you can collect, the better you can understand the ins and outs of the entire story. It’s a bit like a novel in that sense, because you get more time with characters who might otherwise get one line in an entire play. When you aren’t sure what to do or where to go, at some point, someone will find you and take you to a different perspective of the story.
Some of the plot was hard to follow on my path, but that also meant that I learned secret hand signals, snuck in a bathroom to decipher a coded letter, and stood in a pantry closet with a small group to watch an actor give a special musical performance. When I emerged from the basement, I saw people holding masks. Where the heck was that? Apparently it was an entire storyline I didn’t get to see, and that’s okay, because I had a blast.
There is a cash bar, but because of the nature of immersive theater experiences you will be reminded of the rules more than once for safety’s sake. It’s better to enjoy fewer drinks of any kind since you’ll be moving from room to room, up and down stairs, and sometimes even go outside.
My experience is unique to that of my choices, so as long as you go in with an open imagination and are willing to ask questions and follow up on clues, you too can have a wild night.