The evening begins with assigned seating at tables of various sizes in Black Forest Inn's event space (there's a separate entrance off 26th Street). A server will take your order, but for alcoholic drinks (not included in the price) I recommend walking across the patio to order a German bier from the bar in the main restaurant. Dinner is served in three courses while the pre-show musicians play. Perhaps they're still working out timing of service, but I didn't get the main part of the meal until shortly before showtime, which doesn't allow much time for eating (you can continue to eat during the show, but depending on where and how you're sitting that can be awkward). They could serve the delicious soup and bread together instead of as separate courses, and then bring the meal out sooner, allowing more time for eating before the show starts. But that's just logistics that'll probably get smoother as the run continues (update: I'm told that they've hired more servers and that service is running much more smoothly now). The true feast, as I mentioned, is the show.
|our host Isabel Nelson (photo by John Heimbach)
|Isabel Nelson (photo by John Heimbach)
This is a very up-close-and-personal experience; Isabel walks around the space looking the audience directly in the eyes and feeding off of our reactions. But don't worry, no one dislikes interactive theater more than I do, and this is not that. You're not expected to talk back or get out of your seat, although you might be given something to eat or asked to nod or shake hands. It's immersive and a little participatory, but in a non-threatening way.
This is the kind of theater that reaches right into your soul in a way that's hard to describe. It's more than just a play, it's an experience. Theater is always about give and take between audience and performer, but that can get lost in traditional theater spaces. But not here. It's obvious we're all in this together, although the artists thankfully are doing most of the work and all we have to do is listen, be open, and go along for the ride. Isabel's performance is dramatic, and hilarious, and surprising, and moving. In short, she's everything.
Click here for all of the details (including information about Artistic Director John Heimbuch's solo performance of Beowulf before Saturday Feasts) and to purchase tickets. There is a small show-only seating section as well as the full dinner experience.