Quantum Theatre’s TAMARA
If you aren’t into traditional theatre, but are more interested in productions like Sleep No More in Brooklyn, you should definitely check out Quantum Theatre’s rendition of TAMARA. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those shows where you’re a part of it and have to sign a waiver. In this one, you’re merely a spectator within an experiential showcase, directed by John Shepard, that takes the audience in and around the mansion of the influential Italian poet, Gabriele d’Annunzio. Over the course of a three-hour event, including dinner, you become a part of the lives of the members of the household as they welcome Tamara de Lempicka, an art deco icon of the twentieth century. We had a blast following the characters of the play and watching as tales of love affairs, terrorism, and national pride came together in a spectacular piece of work.
To give you a little bit of background, in early twentieth century Italy, Gabriele d’Annunzio was like a mentor to Mussolini and lead an initiative that influenced Italy’s involvement in World War I–in which d’Annunzio became a national hero. In addition to his poetry and heroism, he was famous for being a forerunner of Italian fascism and for his sultry skills of seduction. Out of respect for d’Annunzio, Mussolini financed his life in a beautiful Italian villa where he invited many artists to stay with him.
Quantum Theatre, with the help of Artisitc Director Karla Boos, transformed the Rodef Shalom into the villa of Gabriele d’Annunzio. Once you arrive, you are given your program, otherwise known as your passport, and a number. Everyone is introduced to the characters and given a little bit of a background story over a glass of champagne. Next, the audience is divided into the three groups that were assigned upon check in. Each group follows either the hopeless valet, Dante Fenzo, the inquisitive head of security, Aldo Finzi, or the mansion’s eager-to-please governess, Aelis Mazoyer. From there, you have the option to stay with and follow each of those characters, or switch to any of the other seven characters you run into inside the mansion. You’re encouraged to stick with one character throughout the play, but you’re also allowed to switch if someone else’s story line catches your interest more.
Two members of our crew went to see the show on Tuesday night. One of us followed the service staff: Dante, Emilia, the maid, and Mario, the chauffeur. We recommend following them around if you like stories of hopeless romantics, secret lives, and deceit. Mario, played by recent Carnegie Mellon grad, Thomas Moore, did a great job of keeping our interest, even if he did have us running around after him. Follow Dante after dinner if you want to get a peek at the full monty. Our other rep went with the famous people of the household: Gabriele, his ex-lover Louisa, the fabulous Tamara, and Gian Francesco de Spiga, a visiting pianist. Their stories involve jealousy, insanity, and passion. No matter who you choose to follow, you’ll be captured by the performers.
Leave the heels at home and come prepared to move, because you’ll walk, jog, or run from the master’s chambers upstairs, to the kitchen, through the library, and down into the servants quarters more than once before intermission. There is a suggested route for those less mobile. At intermission, dinner is served with a glass of wine. Our dinner consisted of a fantastic entrée of braised local Parma veal sausage in a red wine, Madeira & tomato sauce from Above & Beyond Catering. Every week is catered by a different company, you can check out the list here. Call ahead if you’d prefer a vegetarian option. We recommend sitting with people who you didn’t see throughout the play. That way, you can swap story lines and fill in each other’s blanks.
This was our first immersive theatre experience and we loved it. Watch out, its pretty addictive. We’ll be going back again to see what we missed the first time. Tickets range from $56-$100 can be purchased here. Not bad, considering dinner and booze are included. They’re selling out, so get yours before it closes on September 14th!