Third Wheel Productions
Deep Into Darkness by Laura Carly Miller & Sydney Doberstein

Dates and Venue August 13-25 2019. Doors at 7pm, show runs 8pm-10pm | The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver BC

Producers/Writers/Directors/Actors Laura Carly Miller & Sydney Doberstein Producer Fraser Larock Sound Designer Sean William Production Designer John R. Taylor Fight Choreographer Nicholas Harrison Dramaturg Stephen Atkins

Reviewer Erin Jane

Have you ever wanted to be a masked voyeur wandering around inside the mind of creative madness? Vancouver’s own Third Wheel Productions has made this experience available for your twisty pleasure with their immersive theatre show Deep Into Darkness, playing at The Cultch until August 25.

Laura Carly Miller and Sydney Doberstein co-wrote, co-directed, and co-produced and also acted in this experiential performance after seeing Sleep No More in New York, created in a similar vein of “promenade theatre” where the audience may explore a variety of theatrically designed rooms, interact with props, and observe the wordless actors at their own pace. From this idea was born Deep Into Darkness, a sensual and violent look at the perceived inner workings of Edgar Allen Poe’s thoughts and mind.

As you arrive as an audience member, you will be handed a sort of tarot card that will be used later to pull you away from your group or partner that you came with. Fear not, as Deep Into Darkness has provided you with two very engaging and charismatic hosts, meticulously dressed in strict Victorian fashion, who will hand you your mask and usher you into a seemingly arbitrary direction to begin your exploration. Haunting music and sounds echo throughout the corridors, hallways, and more than 20 rooms, perfectly complementing the Victorian atmosphere and feel. Open any door that isn’t marked “no entry” and feel your way through the darkness; that’s it.

There isn’t much explanation or set-up prior to being whisked away into the action; although I arrived nearly 30 minutes early, I had only a few minutes to get my bearings before my tarot card and I were guided through an unmarked door with simply the direction to go forth and see what lies ahead (only, in rhyming Victorian-style prose). Just be sure to keep an open mind and check your fear of missing out at the door, because the action is not on loop and if you’re not there to see it you’ve missed out. From what I could tell, there’s something different going on all the time.

And while the performance seems like an homage to chaos, there truly must have been an impressive level of organization that went into producing this type of show. No back stage, no waiting in the wings - actors are being observed at all times and are in a constant stream of consciousness style performance, not to mention the attention to detail, the hidden notes, the papers and baubles and bed sheets and photos placed for you to find.

One small misgiving about this performance is that if you are not good at exploring, left to your own devices there’s a lot you can miss. Indeed, I nearly missed two entire rooms that I didn’t stumble upon until the end of the performance. In spite of this, I give Deep Into Darkness a solid 9/10, with an asterisk: you must be willing to abandon all expectations and inclination towards any sense of structure, and keep an open mind to enjoy this unique experience.

© 2019 Erin Jane