If you’re really into creepy things and you don’t want to wait until Halloween be sure to check out CreepLA’s latest production, The Willows. You’ll get dinner, drinks and a little more than you bargained for.
For those who aren’t familiar with CreepLA, they’re responsible for creating epic immersive theater experiences that blur the line between fiction and reality, bringing actors and guests together for something truly special.
The Willows is CreepLA’s newest immersive theater experience that brings you to the home of an upper-class family who’re still mourning the loss of one of their family members.
Billed as an impressive two and a half hour experience, guests are brought into a 10,000 square foot mansion in Los Angeles. There they are met by the family butler, Lindsey, who guide them into the living room for drinks before the night truly begins.
If love being spooked then this would be a great experience, but if you don’t scare easy then this may not be for you.
CreepLA’s ‘The Willows’ Review
I have to say that for what it is, The Willows is a unique and fun experience. Only 18 guests are allowed to participate at a time, and with less than 10 actors it truly is an immersive, intimate night in.
The night begins when guests are told to meet at street corner in LA’s Mid-Wilshire district, where they’re picked up by a black van, blindfolded and dropped off in front of the impressive mansion, where the atmosphere and the actors make you feel like you’re in the middle of the 1940s.
As you meet the characters it becomes clear that this is a dysfunctional, mourning family. The loss of Jonathan, who was seemingly the glue of the household, has brought these characters to madness, alcoholism and derangement.
While each and every character was entertaining and convincing as a messed up family, the story of the experience is a little muddled. It’s hard to say exactly what The Willows is going for when welcoming you in, and what The Willows has in talent and acting it lacks in actual plot.
Like all immersive-theater it’s best when you go into it not knowing too many details, so I’ll spare you what I think it’s about.
What I will tell you that having done this a few days ago and having had so much time to think about it I’m still unsure about what the ending was about, and what part of the story we played as guests.
The biggest reason for this, I think, is because through-out the nights guests are divided and told where to go and what to do, rarely having all 18 of us in the same room.
While I’m sure this makes for easier handling of the audience, it’s like going through a movie but being told you can only watch a few scenes.
For instance, it was interesting when we were all gathered for a light dinner. The room was a buzz with excitement and chatter when suddenly a hooded figure with a rope around his neck appeared in front of the window. It was clear that something was wrong with this house, and everyone was made aware of that right away.
Once dinner was over certain guests were told to go with certain characters, and I was led by the younger son of the family, Conrad, to his bedroom where he showed me and three other guests portraits of Jonathan that he’d done. And man, they were creepy.
Conrad instructed us to make our own portrait of what we think Jonathan looked like as he told us more about Jonathan’s unusual death. This was enough for me to gather what was going on, but I was curious about what else was happening in the house.
The separation continued and eventually I was reunited with another small group of guests where we played a themed game of Werewolf. It was a fun experience, but in the middle of it we saw another group being guided outdoors where it looked like they were forced to do some sort of ceremony. I wonder what that was about?
We were finally reunited at the end and gathered around for something that was apparently very important, though I’m still not sure it was for. Moments later the evening was over and we were being escorted out back to a black van to take us back.
Overall I was able to gather an idea of what was going on, but the ending was abrupt and made no sense until another guest had to explain it to me.
The Willows could benefit from either extending the length of the show so that you could experience more of these character’s stories, or cut it down and separating guests less so that we could all get an understanding of what happened.
That said, the atmosphere was amazing, the food was delicious and the actors were phenomenal with staying in character. It was a memorable two and a half hours and I loved the theming, so I’m very happy to have been invited to experience such a unique show.
Would you go to ‘The Willows’?
Priced at $125 it’s certainly a luxury experience, and you have to live in or near the Los Angeles area, but if you like immersive theater and you love period piece type stories then CreepLA’s The Willows would be perfect for you.
Tickets are currently sold out for May but chances are they’ll add more. Check out their website for more details!