“The Day Shall Declare It” Burns an Emotional Path Through Your Heart
“The Day Shall Declare It” is a haunting, emotional descent into lust, love and longing. A completely immersive show, it invites you to watch as love and hope fight for survival in a sometimes brutal world.
You arrive in downtown Los Angeles at a warehouse that appears to be on the verge of collapse. You enter to find the joined spaces of a tiny, sparsely decorated home and a simple but elegant bar. (A bar that serves extremely well-fashioned cocktails, I should mention.) This is the playground for the cast of “The Day Shall Declare It.”
Characters come forth into the space and mingle with you, tease you. As immersive theater goes, this is the best example I have seen in Los Angeles, so far. The show surrounds you. The cast leads you from space to space but they demand nothing of you but your attention. They move according to where the audience lands, where the audience spills into their world. You don’t just eavesdrop during a visit in someone’s home, you are present as their daily lives become exposed to you. If you enter their path, they will adjust accordingly, seamlessly. To label this a play is unfair. It is an experience.
The outstanding cast includes Chris Polick, Annie Saunders and Anthony Nikolchev. Fearless in every way, their performances elevate the piece to a level of intimacy that is an honor to witness.
Inspired by the works of Tennessee Williams and selected interviews by Studs Terkel, you can almost feel the humidity in the air weighing down these people struggling to maintain an everyday working class of American life that those authors captured with grace and detail. With a sense of desperation and longing, “The Day Shall Declare It” casts an emotional spell, perfectly evoking the tone of a Williams’ play coming to life around you. ALL around you.
If you’re looking for a traditional play with traditional story arcs, you will not find that here. This passionate cast takes you through moments of intense emotion ranging from depression to contentment to loss and longing. A sensual, visual, physical goldmine of heartfelt moments of honesty and confusion unfolds before you… it is up to you to choose what you walk away with at the end.
Upon arriving, my friends and I ordered drinks and did some minor exploration of the rooms. Within minutes, a suited stranger placed his arm around me, nodded with approval and let me know he had been, “looking for me.” I was whisked away to a private office where the stranger urgently asked me to share a drink with him as he told me about his father who may have abandoned him and a mother whose insistence on playing it safe and stressing conformity may have warped his well-being forever. I was rolled around in an office chair, flirted with, joked with, and after several minutes of building tension, embraced and escorted out with an assurance we would meet again. The show had begun…
Meanwhile, my friends were meeting other characters that we all would be spending time with – a woman who started a family and may live to regret that decision or a character who spoke of fantasy beaches where solitude offers contentment. (It should be mentioned that these extra scenes were part of “The Tennessee” level of tickets which is a slightly different price range then general admission tickets. I recommend you pay the extra if it is possible for you – the backstory you get from these emotional mini-plays enhanced all of our experiences throughout the night.)
A mix of physicality, intimacy and a devastating emotional core, the urgency of the cast desperately moving through the audience – which stands for the entire performance and fills each room the actors inhabit – becomes emotionally devastating. Immersive theater can be a tricky thing, striking an excellent balance of emotion and drama and exquisitely choreographed moments, “The Day Shall Declare It” creates a world where each scene reveals heartfelt, often painful, honesty.
The show begins in the bar, then expands in surprising ways. There are moments of revelry, moments of discovery among the cast. There is young love that leads to a child who may or may not be wanted. Dark sexual exploration in a workplace that may lead to risky social ramifications – all explored with passionate intensity. In a sequence where the audience surrounds a bathtub, there is a deeply moving scene where a man and a woman desperately want to connect, to communicate, but somehow never manage complete honesty with each other even as they reveal every raw emotion pulsing through their lives. The man strips away the woman’s clothing piece by piece as she fantasizes about a beach where solitude will offer comfort and salvation. As she becomes emotionally bare, more and more layers of clothing disappear. But, in the end, she leaves never letting us know if true happiness is in the cards or is as elusive as sand shifting with the passage of time.
There is so much here to love. The environment, the piece and a cast that throws themselves into sequences with a physicality that engages, intrigues and thrills because it is happening inches from the audience. During the first half of the show, as we learn about the passionate history and the looming demise of the relationships – every choreographed move, every step the cast takes is a haunting invitation into a relationship that you sense may not survive.
This is bold work, performed by actors willing to take emotional and physical risks. It is thrilling to be in their presence.
The glimpses we gain of the young characters yearning to escape what time is doing to them… it serves as a reminder that sometimes we get caught within traps in our own lives and sometimes they can be very difficult to escape. At one point a man declares in desperation “Breakout while you can!” Moments later another character replies “What a joke.” It’s not the happiest of messages, but at the heart of the show, there is a sense that perhaps in all of our lives there are moments when we need to extricate ourselves from who we are – so we may become who we are.
Challenging and riveting, this may be one of the best events you attend this year.
“The Day Shall Declare It” runs through the mid-June. It was created by WILDERNESS and Produced in partnership with HeLo.
For details and tickets, visit the official Wilderness website to learn more about this and other projects.
Visit the bar!!! Seriously, folks, it’s a really cool bar!!!
This immersive piece relies heavily on a marvelous location. It should be noted that the bar is called the Paradise Shipping Co Speakeasy, open to the public Tuesday through Sunday after the performance ends around 9:45 p.m. Enjoy some aromatic cocktails any day of the week, or Louisiana BBQ and live music Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in a truly unique space.
(They suggest you enter at the gate next door to play venue, 2051 East 7th St. (at Santa Fe) 90021 Look for the old Paradise Shipping yard and go around the back.)
One absolute advantage to this location is the welcoming environment. The volume level is great for conversation among friends, the drinks are good. This is a space worth checking out!
Check out the trailer for “The Day Shall Declare It” below…