Interactive theatre can go terribly wrong, and while some people love it (see: Rocky Horror Picture Show) it can fall flat if you don’t have a willing, participatory audience.
Despite having an appallingly small opening show, the energetic host and narrator Max Schneller worked his pioneer mojo to get the crowd as comfortable as could be with the prospect and ended up being successful.
In the style of interactive musical theatre and keeping with the elements of computer gaming, the audience is encouraged to participate actively in certain developments of the plot. For our show, we had one of the female leads christened ‘Rebecca Black’ and, incidentally, it was indeed a Friday.
You also get two balls of ammo for a hunting game later on and, as an audience, your cheers determine the crew’s choices, such as the occupation of the main character.
Fans of the game will get a few shout-outs via direct references to lines of dialogue and issues. These allusions won’t have you rolling on the floor, but they certainly elicit a smile or two as you reminisce about that time when one of your characters died from supposed “exhaustion” or when you hunted 200 pounds of meat but could only carry back 50 pounds to the wagon. Oh the joys of grammar school video game playing!
The cast was talented and energetic to boot with some beautiful vocals, especially from bible-thumping Hope, an Elphaba-esque persona, played by Haley Greenstein. The original songs were catchy, with a simple but well-managed synth-piano accompaniment by Enrico de Trizio.
The show is undeniably quirky and unabashedly nerdy, which could be the nails in the coffin after a fit of theatrical floundering. But thanks to the talents of the cast and the high energy, The Oregon Trail: Quest for the West is saved from crossing over into being too hokey and settles in a lowbrow section of camp. This play would be a great for a group to go to: the more involved you can get, the better the performance will be.
The show is playing at Mountain in the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, a few blocks from the McPherson Square metro stop. For showtimes and tickets, see here.